A silent electrification revolution is underway in Belgium
Last year saw further incremental growth towards electrification of car mobility in Belgium. One in three of newly registered cars in 2022 were either plug-in hybrid or electric, compared to one in four back in 2021. This trend is likely to have resulted partially from companies and the self-employed reacting to the Federal Government's tax reform of 25 November 2021, which phases out the tax deduction on internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.
Besides the high purchase prices of electric vehicles (EVs), limited choice of models, range anxiety and reluctance of many consumers to become the test subjects of avant-garde technology, another barrier to electrification is the charging. Charging of an EV takes much longer than filling up an ICE car, therefore an EV owner is at a disadvantage if they have to visit a charging point and wait ½ or 1h for the full charge, just like someone without a washing machine at home has to wait at the launderette.
During road trips, for example, EV drivers are obliged to make more frequent and longer stops compared with ICE drivers. On the other hand, EV owners who do not go on road trips often and who can charge their EV at home have an edge over ICE car owners as they spare the errand of driving to the petrol station to fill up for and always enjoy a fully charged car before starting their daily commute. The fact that 80% of the EV recharge episodes in Belgium currently take place either at home or at work, it is to assume that the EV have appealed so far – apart from companies and the self-employed – to home-owning daily commuters (apart from companies, for tax reasons).
Opening up the market towards broader groups of consumers must solve the charging issue. There are currently 2587 publicly accessible EV charging connectors per 1 million inhabitants in Belgium. This is over five times more than in the US, twice as many than in Germany (1155), but only half as many as in France (5245) and three times fewer than in the Netherlands (7785), world’s leader in electrification. The number of public charging points in Brussels rose from 500 in January 2020 to 2700 in November 2022.
The electrification trends, combined with a decline of diesel car ownership, which peaked in 2018 and has fallen sharply since the Low Emission Zone, offers good prospects for the improvement of air quality in Brussels.