End of combustion engines: the challenges of recharging electric vehicles in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region

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Long reluctant to adopt electric cars, car manufacturers now swear by the battery. Several of them even see pure lithium ion representing the majority, if not all, of their sales in the near future.

With the historic announcements of the last few weeks, the forecast is for almost 4 million electric cars in 2030 in Europe, based on 2019 figures.

From month to month and despite the health crisis, electric vehicle sales figures are soaring. After accounting for 12.4% of new car sales in 2020, electric cars accounted for 16% of the market in Western Europe in the first quarter of 2021. In France, the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region accounts for 13.5% of registrations.

THE COMBUSTION ENGINE TO BE BANNED IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES

But if European manufacturers are converting to lithium ion at an accelerated pace, it is also and above all because the regulatory horizon for the combustion engine has become singularly obscured in recent months, particularly in Europe. First of all, outright bans are on the increase. Norway plans to ban the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2025. The United Kingdom will follow suit in two stages (2030 and 2035).

The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Slovenia are following suit. In France, the end of combustion engine sales is scheduled for 2040, but a number of cities want to take the lead. Paris plans to ban diesel cars in 2024, and will only allow electric or hydrogen cars in 2030. Lyon, Strasbourg and Grenoble have adopted similar approaches. All these initiatives reduce the commercial potential of the combustion engine.

But pressure is also coming from Brussels. The ‘Green Deal’, a project that aims to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050, obviously affects the car industry. The Commission is thinking loudly about a ban on internal combustion engines in new models in 2035. But this deadline could de facto come years earlier.

This early end to the combustion engine is good news for the planet… provided it is sustainable.

“We do not dispute the trend, but beware of the mirage of the single solution. At this stage, there is no certainty that electricity, even when supported by hydrogen, can cover all cases of use. There is also a question of pace: be careful not to destabilise the motor industry, which represents 55,000 jobs in France, too much. “

Marc Mortureux, Director General of the PFA Automobile et Mobilités, representing the industry in France.

Opportunities and challenges in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region

With the acceleration of electric vehicle sales, the issue of access to a suitable public recharging infrastructure network is becoming increasingly crucial if we do not want to slow down this dynamic. The figures at the end of December show that the region is under pressure with more than 15 vehicles per charging point open to the public, figures that reach more than 30 for the Rhône and more than 80 for the Haute-Loire. For example, there are currently only two fast charging stations in the city of Lyon in a context where the implementation of the ZFE (Zone à Faibles Emissions) provides for a phase-out of diesel by 2026, a situation which should however improve with the deployment of the Izivia Grand Lyon network.

In this context, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region and ADEME, with the support of the CARA competitiveness cluster, have carried out an inventory of electric mobility in order to determine the level of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (IRVE) and to understand the obstacles and needs of the players and users of electric mobility with a view to drawing up a regional roadmap. The study revealed the need to increase the supply, particularly in dense urban areas (50,000 inhabitants or more), in condominiums, in the workplace, as well as “on-demand charging stations” on public land (car parks, business parks).

The case of joint-ownership

The vast majority of electromobilists recharge their electric cars at home (about 90% of them have this possibility because they live in a single-family home). The availability of a recharging solution in condominiums is therefore a real challenge

For the development of electromobility in urban areas. To this end, the Loi Orientation des Mobilités has introduced a new obligation for condominiums to examine at the General Assembly, before 1 January 2023, the appropriateness of carrying out a study on the suitability of existing electrical infrastructures for charging equipment and any work to be carried out to this end. A sizing study carried out by an IRVE-qualified design office is therefore recommended to check the available power capacity, certain safety aspects and any implementation constraints depending on the technical architecture.

The case of public car parks

The deployment of IRVEs in public car parks and park-and-ride facilities is also essential to meet user needs. In order to accelerate this, the Climate and Resilience Law provides for the extension of the obligation to install IRVEs in the car parks of non-residential buildings to public car parks managed by local authorities, by delegation of public service, by public service management or via a public contract, no later than 1 January 2025. The implementation of these infrastructures can represent a significant investment, which is why Mobelec now offers, within the framework of a partnership with Mob-Energy, studies based on ME-Analytics® simulation software which allows the creation of a digital twin of the car parks and the simulation of different optimised electrification scenarios.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region can also congratulate itself on having, with the Lyon Mob-Energy and Grenoble Gulplug startups, innovative solutions that make it possible to optimise investments by pooling charging points in public car parks and thus accelerate the equipping of car parks in France and Europe.

Written with the support of Walter van Hecke, President of MOBELEC

Source: Les Echos