I love electric cars. I love them so much I committed my entire company, the largest fleet manager in the world, to transition to 100% zero emission EVs by 2030.
Since making that commitment, we’ve seen great progress with our customers and ourselves – already in the Netherlands, we have a 100% electric vehicle (EV) employee fleet, and this year we have more EVs globally than ever before.
But the news isn’t all good, and we have to face the facts about the unsexy topic no one wants to talk about: infrastructure. Almost everyone I speak to has the desire to go electric, and the range of models available means that today there is an EV for almost every budget – but for too many people, lack of charging infrastructure means it is simply too difficult to make the switch.
I understand this.
I live in the Amsterdam canal ring – in the epicenter of what many people consider the most EV- friendly country in the world – and I can tell you, infrastructure is a nightmare. Parking is a nightmare. Finding a free charging station is a nightmare. Finding the right card to pay for your charging is a nightmare. The once pleasant experience of coming home has become a dreadful game of musical chairs.
When I leave the city, the problems change. Parking naturally becomes easier in open spaces, but charging can sometimes – on some routes in some countries – resemble finding a needle in a haystack. Without carefully planning out each stretch of a road trip, I could easily find myself in the painful position of being stuck on a highway with no charger in sight. Try explaining to your young children that your planet-saving EV can’t make it to Disneyland Paris, and you’ve immediately lost the heart of a generation to diesel. And as more and more of us go electric, the problem is only getting worse.
So when my friends, family, customers and even colleagues tell me they have reservations about switching to EV, I understand them. What I cannot understand is how governments can contemplate rolling back EV infrastructure investments. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is how quickly the world can change, and how dire is the cost of inaction. Climate change is the next inevitable catastrophe, and senseless backpaddling edges us closer and closer to the point of no return.
We need to act urgently to remove every roadblock stopping the transition to zero emissions, and governments around the world must significantly increase their investments into a comprehensive network of publicly available charging stations (as we and our partners have called for), while also incentivizing the installation of private charging in offices and homes. This would be good for drivers, good for our air quality, and good for the planet.
Simply put: it needs to be easier to go electric, and governments and local authorities need to step up now. History will not forgive inaction.