Is Europe Leaving Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety Behind?

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Range anxiety – the fear an electrical vehicle will run out of power before it can reach a charging station – may become a thing of the past in several European countries.

EV drivers will soon be able to power up through the ELECTRIC project, a corridor of fast charger stations along highways connecting Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden scheduled to go online in 2015.

This Northern European EV highway will soon be followed by a massive network of EV charging stations across France, which could ultimately mean no driver would ever be more than 25 miles from a charge point in that country.

Excited EV driver
Excited EV driver image via Shutterstock

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Northern Europe’s Fast-Charging EV Superhighway

The ELECTRIC project is a consortium of five utilities and EV-focused organizations led by ABB, and it’s planning to install 155 ABB Terra Series EV chargers across the four Northern European countries by December 2015. The open-access network will ultimately include 67 chargers in Germany, 35 in Sweden, up to 30 in the Netherlands, and 23 in Denmark.

TEN-T EV charging network
TEN-T EV charger network map via ABB

ELECTRIC’s EV charging investment is significant – $10.5 million, and it’s co-funded at a 50% level by the European Union’s Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) initiative. The project is already underway – ABB began installing 100 EV charging locations across Denmark in 2013, and while this new announcement is significant, it could have an even greater impact down the road.

EV chargers along the ELECTRIC network will collect data to analyze technical performance and driver usage patterns during pilot phase assessing potential expansion to new locations. “Once we gather the facts and figures, we believe we can help dispel any so-called range anxiety,” blogged Crijn Bouman of ABB’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure group. “If we plan infrastructure carefully, nobody need worry about getting stuck without a place to charge up their vehicles.”

An EV Charger Every 25 Miles In France?

While the ELECTRIC project expansion plans are significant, they pale in comparison to what’s about to unfold in France. EV company Bollore, already behind Paris’ Autolib EV car-sharing system, recently announced plans to install 16,000 EV charging stations across the country by 2018. France is considering tax incentives for Bollore to build chargers on public highways, meaning the network could theoretically link to the TEN-T system.


The massive EV charging infrastructure expansion is expected to cost $186 million, and while the exact charging locations aren’t yet determined, Bollore CEO Vincent Bollore said in a radio interview the ultimate network would ensure “no one in France will be more than 40 kilometers (around 25 miles) from a charging station.”

France’s EV sales are increasing fast, meaning more and more drivers are looking to power up. 25 miles is well within the given range of nearly every EV on the road today, so driver anxiety may switch from worrying about running out of juice to debating which station is most convenient.

Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety Fades Into The Distance

Millions of electric vehicles are expected to charge onto Europe’s roads in the near future. Navigant Research forecasts millions of EVs on Europe’s roads by 2020, and Angela Merkel has called for a million EVs in Germany by 2020.

But in order for these ambitious goals to become reality, all these EVs will need ample and dispersed charging infrastructure. As data comes in from early European EV charging leaders, subsequent infrastructure expansions should become more efficient and effective, leaving range anxiety further and further in the rearview mirror.

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