Is Belgium going through a historic turning point in terms of vehicle consumption? While combustion engines have been the heart of Belgians for decades, they are seriously beginning to turn away from them in favor of supercharged batteries. Still anecdotal in 2021, sales of electric vehicles have indeed been setting records since the start of the year. To the point that now one in three vehicles leaving concessions is powered by electricity, according to figures from the Fédération de l’Automobile et du Cycle (Febiac) for the first quarter of 2022.
A change of mentality notably favored by federal policies on the greening of the vehicle fleet: from 2026, all company vehicles will have to be zero emissions if the companies that use them still want to benefit from tax advantages on their vehicle fleet. “In Europe, the sale of electric vehicles increased by almost 70% in 2021 (2.3 million vehicles sold), almost half of which were plug-in hybrid vehicles and the other half electric cars without combustion engines, analyze Véronique Goossens and Frank Maet, economists at Belfius. Over the past three years, the market share of EVs has tripled globally and now stands at almost 9%. It still needs to make huge progress by 2030 to meet climate goals. And that requires a whole series of investments. Automakers also intend to spend more than $500 billion on electric vehicles and batteries by 2030.”
In Belgium, the biggest obstacle to crossing the electric rubicon is still the scarcity of charging stations. “According to the European Transport Workers’ Federation, the number of public charging stations in Belgium should increase to 42,000 in 2025 and 91,000 in 2030.”
However, for the moment, only a little over 8,000 public charging stations are available in Belgium, according to Belfius. Including a good thousand in Brussels and another thousand in Antwerp, the largest city in the north of the country.
A state of affairs which explains the poor position of the Belgian capital in the ranking of the most “electro-friendly” cities, established by the British comparator Uswitch. “Curious to identify the most e-driver friendly European cities, we have created an index assessing the number of free EV charging sites, average energy prices, EV charging consumption and driving distance. ‘one EV charger to another, we confide at Uswitch. After using this index to give 33 European cities an EV Incentive Score out of 10, they determined the best cities in Europe to own an electric vehicle.
Result: Brussels is ranked in 22nd position, out of 33 cities analysed, with an average score of 6.32 out of 10. Conversely, Antwerp would be ranked in 9th position with a score of 6.76/10. Surprisingly enough, it is in Iceland, in Reykjavik, that you have to look for the most electro-friendly city (7.94 out of 10). “Antwerp is the best city in Belgium to drive electric,” concludes Uswitch. Charging stations are available there 44% of the time, the sixth highest percentage in Europe. Conversely, despite being the capital of the country, the infrastructure of Brussels is inferior to that of Antwerp.”