Competition analysis of the EU-27 & UK recharging market

This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the electric vehicle (EV) recharging market in the EU27 + UK, focusing on the publicly accessible recharging infrastructure and related services. The goal is to assess the industry dynamics, regulatory initiatives, public support, and competitive outcomes across the region. The analysis includes a more detailed investigation of four EU Member States: Ireland, Italy, Croatia, and Belgium.
The growth of EV adoption is crucial to achieving Net Zero targets, necessitating sufficient recharging infrastructure to meet consumer needs. Passenger EV adoption in the EU27 + UK has increased significantly, with a growth factor of 11 since 2016. Despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on overall vehicle sales, EV penetration among new sales has risen from 1% in 2016 to nearly 20% in 2022. The average range of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has also increased from approximately 200 km in 2015 to around 350 km in 2020. However, EV penetration is still in its early stages, as 95% of the total fleet consists of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

A bar graph titled "Figure 1: EU27 + the UK passenger EV growth (total EVs and share of vehicle sales)" displaying the number of total EVs in millions and their new sales penetration percentage from 2019 to 2022. The data shows consistent growth in both categories over the years, with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 50% for the total fleet. The graph uses orange bars for EV new sales penetration, blue for BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles), and teal for PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles).
Source: Competition analysis of the electric vehicle recharging market across the EU27 + the UK | European Commission

The number of public recharging points has been steadily increasing, from about 90,000 in 2016 to over 450,000 in 2022. However, the growth of EV recharging deployment (31% CAGR) has not kept pace with EV adoption growth (50% CAGR), leading to an imbalance between EVs and available rechargers. There is substantial variation in performance across Member States, classified as “nascent,” “in-development,” or “developed” based on EV penetration and adequacy of recharging infrastructure.

A scatter plot chart titled "Countries classified by EVs per recharger vs. EV share of total fleet (2022)." It categorizes countries into nascent, in-development, and advanced based on the number of passenger EVs per recharger and EV penetration as a share of the total fleet.
Source: Competition analysis of the electric vehicle recharging market across the EU27 + the UK | European Commission

Industry value chain and key stakeholders

The key stakeholders in the public EV recharging ecosystem are Charge Point Operators (CPOs) and eMobility Service Providers (eMSPs). CPOs manage the physical infrastructure, while eMSPs handle digital end-customer services. Different business models have emerged, including pure-plays, expanding incumbents, and state-owned suppliers.

Operators can offer comprehensive services or specialize in specific recharging segments. The convergence of CPO and eMSP models enables improved consumer experience and direct relationships with EV drivers. The industry also involves EV manufacturers, energy providers, and regulatory bodies.

Diagram titled "Figure 4: EV recharging ecosystem – Communication flows, key roles, and responsibilities of market participants." The flowchart shows data flow among EV/EV driver, primary CPOs, roaming platforms, and eMSPs, overseen by national and local authorities. A legend explains roles.
Source: Competition analysis of the electric vehicle recharging market across the EU27 + the UK | European Commission

Regulatory and public support overview

The European Union has established regulations, such as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) and subsequent packages, to foster the interoperability and growth of EV recharging networks. National and local strategies also play a role as the sector matures, focusing on consumer needs, target achievements, and sector-specific regulations.

 

An update to the AFID, called the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), aims to create an interoperable recharging network and promote the growth of the EV industry in the EU.

 

Overall, regulations are becoming more favorable to competition, the rollout of recharging points follows EV adoption, and there is a transition from monopolistic/oligopolistic structures to more competitive ones in the CPO concentration.

 

Assessment of potential competition concerns across the EU27 + the UK

Competition concerns in the EV recharging market are categorized into exploitative conduct, unilateral conduct, exclusionary conduct, coordinated conduct, and considerations around public funding.

 

Exploitative conduct may occur due to local market power, leading to price discrimination and higher access fees in less competitive areas.

Unilateral conduct concerns revolve around market “tipping” and potential first-mover advantages, although regulation and entry opportunities mitigate such concerns. Exclusionary conduct arises from vertical integration between CPOs, eMSPs, energy suppliers, and local authorities, with integration into energy suppliers and local authorities being areas of potential concern.

Coordinated conduct focuses on horizontal agreements between CPOs, CPOs granting access to eMSPs, and agreements with roaming platforms.

Public funding considerations revolve around ensuring fair competition and avoiding distortions caused by state aid or subsidies.

Source: Competition analysis of the electric vehicle recharging market across the EU27 + the UK | European Commission

Address competition concerns, promote a competitive market

Regulatory authorities and competition agencies in the EU27 + UK should actively monitor and enforce competition rules. They should ensure non-discriminatory access to recharging infrastructure, promote interoperability among different networks, and monitor the behavior of dominant players to prevent abuse of market power.

 

Promoting competition can be achieved through measures such as facilitating market entry, encouraging new business models and innovative solutions, promoting open access to data, and fostering cooperation among stakeholders. Regulatory frameworks should be flexible enough to accommodate technological advancements and changing market dynamics while maintaining a level playing field for all participants.

 

Conclusion

To achieve Net Zero goals, a smooth transition to EVs is crucial, requiring a dense and accessible recharging network. Healthy competition among various ecosystem players is vital for supporting this transition.

 

Competition is expected to drive innovation, lower prices, attract private investment, and improve service quality. The EV sector is generally progressing well, although there is heterogeneity across the region in terms of development. While some competition concerns may arise as the sector evolves, the current state shows no major issues. Higher concentration levels are often observed in early-phase and expanding markets.

 

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