Are there a lack of charging points for electric cars?

In the middle of Easter, images of long lines of electric car users waiting to recharge went viral on social networks. Especially at the Atalaya de Cañavate station, 175 kilometers from Madrid on the A-3 Highway, a point where those returning from Valencia, Murcia and Alicante converge. There are 10 chargers here with a power of 150 kW and they are used, above all, by Tesla vehicles. It is the first time that an image like this has been seen, but these days, with the May long weekend already upon us, the question is inevitable: Can you travel with an electric car? What about the charging infrastructure?

The experts consulted, from the Business Association for the Development and Promotion of Electric Mobility (Aedive) and the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers (Anfac) insist that Easter were isolated cases and that “you can travel through Spain with a pure electric vehicle, but when there are peaks in demand such as in an outbound operation, the trip has to be planned, especially on roads with high occupancy and capacity such as Madrid-Valencia,” says the Anfac spokesperson. «Tesla vehicles in their navigators have dynamic information on the status of the superchargers and their degree of occupancy, so it could be known hundreds of kilometers before that these infrastructures were saturated. They were isolated cases that, in addition, occurred on extraordinary dates, such as a vacation return operation, when there are also significant queues at fuel supply stations and they are not news,” says, for his part, Arturo Pérez, Arturo Pérez de Lucia, general director of Aedive.

High power

In the discourse on electric cars, the same dilemma always arises: is it the lack of points that discourages the sale of electric cars or the other way around? As of March 31, 2024, and according to Aedive data, In Spain there were 32,200 public access charging points operational, far from the 91,000 committed for 2025. Of them, 7,956 are fast charging (from 22 to 50 kW) and 3,075 are ultra-fast charging, more than 50KW. It is on the shortage of high-power charging points that car manufacturers focus: «Throughout Spain, 7 out of 10 points are 22 kW, that means that if you have a 66 kW battery, it will take about three hours to charge. What we ask is that high-power electric stations (more than 150 kW) be available on high-capacity roads, also because we have to start thinking about heavy transport. Right now, there is no electric truck that brings strawberries from Huelva to Madrid nor a bus that covers the Madrid-Barcelona route,” Anfac points out.

Catalonia, Madrid, Andalusia and the Valencian Community are the first four regions by number of installed charging points, but is the same thing happening in Albacete, Mérida or Cuenca? Anfac states that, of the 7,300 kilometers on the main Spanish roads, there are more than 3,400 km where there is no access to a charging point of 250 kW or more power within a range of 100 kilometers. «We have 630 points of more than 150 kW and 534 points of 250 kW throughout the territory. What's more, the objectives speak of installing a high-power charging point every 60 km on high-capacity roads,” the organization comments. And in October 2023, the new European Regulation on Alternative Fuel Infrastructures (AFIR) came into force, establishing two objectives based on points: one based on the fleet and another based on distance. The latter requires establishing a certain number of charging stations at 60 km intervals along primary road networks and at 100 km intervals along secondary roads starting in 2025 and 2027, respectively.

For Aedive, the Association that promotes the development of electric vehicles, the charging network is sufficient for the existing electric vehicle fleet. They speak of 466,000 of all types (according to the manufacturers, pure electric there are about 183,000): «It must be understood that in this park, there are vehicles, such as two-wheeled ones, which are mostly recharged in domestic sockets or have removable batteries, and also plug-in hybrids, which are recharged mainly in linked (home and place). of work), since they are not designed to travel long distances in electric mode. For this reason, they assure that “the radial network of highways at the state level has a more than reasonable number of charging infrastructures, both on the national highway network and in rural areas. Besides, The average use of these public charging infrastructures in Spain is 6.3%. very far from a saturation scenario (i.e. more than 90% of the time these stations are not used). Although it is necessary to continue growing in the installation of charging points, especially high power and in locations such as shopping centers, in view of the foreseeable fleet of electric vehicles by 2030, which the PNIEC estimates at 5.5 million,” they comment.

Administrative barriers

Car manufacturers (Anfac) have also discovered that There are at least 7,700 inoperative charging points, of which it is not known whether they do not work due to network failures, acts of vandalism or simply because they have been installed but are not yet in operation. Both associations agree that “it is necessary to streamline the bureaucratic barriers that delay the installation and start-up of public charging infrastructure and standardize the paperwork of the administrations.” From Aedive, they also point out that “there is also a need for more information transparency regarding to power availability at connection points, an aspect that operators need when deciding to invest.

Another problem attributed to electric stations is the impossibility of paying directly with a credit card, which forces users to have to download an app to be able to “refuel.” However, “the entry into force this April of the European AFIR regulation establishes that public charging stations of more than 50 kW They must offer contactless or online payments via QR code, like credit cards; and, in addition, the rates for public charging points must be transparent, easy to find and compare,” they say from Aedive.

Spain, with its little more than 150,000 pure electric vehicles in circulation, has a 12% penetration rate of these models in the total electrical fleet, well below the European average of 22% Will we reach 5.5 million electric vehicles in 2030? To encourage sales, both associations insist that a new tax incentive plan is necessary that focuses on direct aid or VAT reductions, as happens in France or Portugal. The current Moves plan “involves more than a year of waiting to receive aid and, in addition, it can affect the personal income tax when filing the income tax return. Individuals and companies must be convinced to buy and to do so, incentives must be given. A lot of money has been given, 1.2 billion in aid for electric vehicles, but people do not know it and perceive that there is none,” they say from Anfac.

Good time to buy

It seems that 2024 is a good year to buy. The end of aid in Germany has caused sales to decline in the country (going from 26% market penetration to 18% in 2024) and brands' stocks are higher, so prices are falling ( now there are models for 20,000 euros). Another factor that affects is the influx of Chinese brands in the market. “At the end of 2024, the EU wants to impose higher tariffs on car imports from China (from 10 to 15%), forcing Asian groups to increase their sales volume to offset the costs,” explains the ForoCoches website. From Anfac they warn about the Spanish industry:

«Manufacturers are focused on production, but if we want to continue being the second largest producer in Europe, sales have to increase by 25%. “It makes no sense that 90% of what is produced is exported.”