Research Briefing | Jul 22, 2022

The role of EVs in decarbonising European cities

A switch to electric vehicles (EVs) is vital if cities are to achieve net zero carbon emissions. In Europe the take-up of EVs currently varies hugely across cities, indicating that making the change is likely to be much harder for some than for others. Explanations include the degree of reliance on private versus public transport and differences in household income levels. Capital cities tend to do well: they have the scale, the density, the incomes, and perhaps also the necessary political will.

What you will learn:

  • The number of charging points is an obvious determinant of EV adoption. Wealthier cities are at an advantage but new technology may also cause the distribution between large cities, smaller ones, and non-cities to change over time.
  • The same issues affect the ability of cities to electrify their bus fleets, and their light commercial vehicles. The demands that will be placed on electricity grids will be substantial, and financing that has big implications for bus franchising across cities.
  • While switching to EVs will place costs on cities, there will also be benefits in terms of health and quality of life, and these may confer competitive advantages and hence economic gains. The overall balance of positives and negatives will vary on a city-by-city basis.
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