The EU Recovery Funding of 69.5 billion euros announced this week will have a portion dedicated to investing in the electric car industry, a sector that Spain has fallen behind other countries in developing in recent years.
Compared to other western and northern European countries, Spain has a low number of plug-in charge points and the high price of electric cars makes them generally less accessible.
The government is wanting to change this and push the electric car industry forward to make the country a leading producer in this innovative and rapidly expanding sector.
However, the challenges of significantly increasing the number of charge points and making electric car ownership attractive must be addressed quickly and effectively if the sector is to expand.
Raül Blanco, Spain’s Secretary of State for Industry, has stated that the government is aiming to spend around five billion euros on its electric vehicle initiative over the next three years.
In 2020, Spain produced 2.2 million cars and trucks, but only 140,000 of these were electric or hybrids, according to the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers.
Blanco highlighted the importance of addressing the production of electric vehicles, saying ‘what we are doing is accelerating a change that is already taking place’.
According to the government, the EU funding to increase numbers of electric vehicles will reduce CO2 emissions by 450,000 tons, supporting its aims to completely convert to renewable energy by 2050, in line with EU targets.
Unlike some other European countries, Spain is poised to develop its green energy use, and Blanco pointed out the opportunity that lies ahead regarding this, saying ‘compared to other countries of central and eastern Europe that still rely on fossil fuels, or other countries which use nuclear, Spain can rely on renewable energies since it has wind and solar’.
The plans aim to add 250,000 electric vehicles onto Spanish roads over the next two years. Currently, it is estimated that there are just 96,000.
It is also intended that the funding will focus on expanding the sector across all areas of Spain, and not just in the cities, where traffic congestion is an existing and on-going problem.
The environmental campaign charity, Greenpeace, has raised this point as an important aspect of the plans that the government needs to consider, saying that ‘it is vital that the aid is prioritised to help rural populations that have poorer access to other modes of alternative transport’.
Another key part of the plan is the expansion of the plug-in charge point network across the country. The government wants to increase numbers from the existing 11,500 to 100,000 in three years.
This would also help with increasing the level of electric vehicle ownership, encouraging more to purchase a vehicle with the comfort of a widespread and reliable charging network.
Price, however, is another issue that needs to be addressed and the government is introducing a rebate system of up to 7,000 euros on the purchase of an electric or hybrid vehicle, a scheme that they have dedicated 400 million euros towards.
The investment has been welcomed by manufacturers and labour unions, with expansion and job creation firmly entrenched in the plans to develop the sector. Ford, SEAT and Renault have all confirmed their intentions to develop production facilities of electric vehicles in Spain.
It is hoped that the government’s plans will be implemented as soon as possible, when final approval is confirmed from Brussels in the coming weeks, to allow Spain to take the opportunity to become a lead player in the electric vehicle industry.