Spain wants EU funding to revitalize the electric vehicle industry

Barcelona – Daniel Sanchez is one of Spain’s luckiest electric car owners. Just north of Barcelona, within 1 km of your home, there is a free charging station ready to roll Tesla.

The owner of a 41-year-old shipping company said, “I can’t imagine stopping at a gas station again. I feel like I got off the carriage and got into the car.

I never come back.”

Other Spaniards are not quite enthusiastic. Due to the lack of places to plug in and the price of electric vehicles compared to Western and Northern Europe, Spain lags behind as the continent competes for more environmental friendliness. ..

Now the government wants to lead the whole country to this new paradigm.

The ruling left-wing coalition plans to use the EUR 140 billion (£ 166 billion) chunks that Spain will receive from the European Union’s pandemic recovery program to kick start the electric vehicle industry. Advertising

European Commission President Ursula von der Aleien will visit Madrid on Wednesday while Spain awaits approval of the plan by Brussels.

She will meet with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who compared the EU Next Generation Fund to the “new Marshall Plan.”

Spain’s Secretary of State Raul Blanco told The Associated Press that the government is aiming to spend about EUR 5 billion (£ 6 billion) on electric vehicle initiatives over the next three years.

Spain produced 2.2 million cars and trucks in 2020, second only to Germany in Europe. However, according to ANFAC, the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers, only 140,000 of these were electric or hybrid.

“What we are doing is accelerating the changes that are already happening,” Blanco said. “This is a unique opportunity. Automakers are involved and have the resources to make their investments.”

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Spain, the leader in high-speed trains, wants to install an additional 250,000 electric vehicles on the road within two years, in addition to the current 96,000.

As Spain aims to fully convert to renewable energy by 2050 in line with EU goals, the government predicts that promoting electric vehicles will reduce CO2 emissions by 450,000 tonnes. is.

“Spain can carry out these industrial activities with green energy,” said Blanco. “Compared to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe that still rely on fossil fuels, or other countries that use nuclear power, Spain has wind and solar energy, so it relies on renewable energy. I can.”

Spain relies on its strong automotive industry and lithium deposits, which are key to battery production for electric vehicles shared with Portugal. The goal is to establish a supply chain by encouraging private investment to build a battery plant, with the goal of getting all more climate friendly cars out of the production line, along with assembly plants and software design. ..

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However, the success of the plan faces hurdles.

According to a 2020 report by the European Court of Auditors, Spain has less than 2 public plug-in points per 100,000 square kilometers, but more than 10 in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Salvador Ejark, chairman of the Spanish Association of Electric Vehicle Users (AUVE), said: “People don’t buy cars because they can’t charge them, and because of the complex bureaucracy and slow progress, people who can invest aren’t fast enough to buy a car.”

The government wants to increase the total number of charging points nationwide from 11,500 to 100,000 in three years.

ANFAC, a group of automakers, said more may be needed.

“To overcome the driver’s” autonomy anxiety, “we need to ensure that charging the car is as easy as filling it with gasoline,” spokesman Jose Lopez Tafol told AP. It was. “To reach 340,000 charging points by 2030, we need to set up a calendar with goals.” Advertising

Price is also important.

Spain’s average annual income is EUR 15,000 (£ 18,100) below the EU average. Luxury cars are a rare sight in Spanish cities dominated by economic models and motorcycles. Therefore, electric cars can seduce the wealthier Europeans, but give a sticker shock to many Spaniards.

To overcome this, the government has already spent EUR 400 million (£ 484 million) on rebates of up to EUR 7,000 (£ 8,400) on the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles.

You also need to convince automakers that Spain is the best way to invest, but Germany and France have the advantage that the major manufacturers are based in their own countries.

Spanish car maker SEAT, a member of the Volkswagen Group, is working on the production of electric cars in the range of EUR 20,000 to EUR 25,000, which Blanco believes will reach the prices of domestic shoppers.

Ford’s European president, Stuart Rowley, spoke with Prime Minister Sanchez in April about “Ford’s battery procurement strategy and the importance of support from the Spanish government in the framework of the EU next-generation fund.” AP.

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Renault also reaffirmed its focus on making hybrids at its Spanish plant.

Trade unions welcome huge public investment in industries that provide 10% of Spain’s GDP and 9% of employment.

Garbine Espejo, industrial secretary of the CCOO Trade Union Confederation, said Nissan’s recent decision to close factories in and around Barcelona would be what would happen if the private and public sectors did not work together. Said it was a warning.

“The Spanish car industry is healthy,” Espejo told AP. “But if we don’t take this opportunity to turn Spain into a leader in new technology, the impact on industry and employment will be disastrous.” Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved.

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