Touring monitor confirms Belgians having cold feet to switch to EVs

A lot of Belgians still have cold feet when it comes to switching to an electric car, especially in the case of private cars. One in three is plainly negative toward EVs, and only one in four is willing to consider buying one in the next five years. Moreover, higher purchase prices and soaring energy costs made the Belgian driver’s prejudices in 2022 even more persistent.

One thing and another is shown by the yearly EV Monitor of the Belgian mobility organization Touring. But there are some clear positive trends, too, with 42% of Belgians. Still, 32% are willing to embrace the transition as more available EV models, less range anxiety, and more charging infrastructure are on the horizon.

A survey in ten EU countries

The survey was conducted for Touring by the Brussels University VUB, covering ten European countries and 1 668 Belgian respondents. The European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO) collected data about electric driving in neighboring countries. It showed Belgians were among the most pessimistic, only beaten by the French.

The fieldwork was done in late 2022, when exorbitant energy prices were all over the news daily. And they didn’t help to convince the Belgian driver it was time to make the switch. On the contrary, this phenomenon we also saw in Germany lately.

So it’s no wonder the same prejudices against EVs were strengthened again: higher purchase prices for EVs with close to no choice under €40 000 is the main obstacle, according to Touring. The average budget a Belgian wants to spend for a private EV is €27 000, so the threshold looks too high. Moreover, most have never heard of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Calling for subsidies

So they’re calling on the government to subsidize EV purchases, which the current (regional) governments refuse to consider. Touring suggests a strong ‘fiscal’ signal for private EVs, too, like is given for zero-emission company cars that are 100% tax deductible. From 2026, all new company cars must be zero-emission in Belgium, which already boosts EV sales in that segment.

In that business sector, several lease companies and HR consultants have proven with recent studies that in most European countries and all car segments, except for the small city car, the TCO (all expenses cumulated) of a BEV is equal to lower than that of a car with a classic combustion engine (ICE).

Even with higher electricity prices

And this, even by considering higher purchase prices and higher electricity prices in 2022. The Belgian safety institute VIAS came to the same conclusions recently in a study comparing the total cost of ownership for cars used privately for nine years, the average in Belgium for keeping your vehicle.

VIAS did the math for a car with an average mileage of 15 000 km per year, while LeasePlan, for instance, did that for 4-5 years and 35 000 km yearly. Again, when calculating the actual costs – the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – gasoline, diesel, and plug-in hybrids are more expensive in the long run.

Governments will gladly refer to those studies to defend why direct EV subsidies are unnecessary. But no word of the positive effect of TCO in the Touring survey. One would expect a mobility organization with 2,8 million members to be responsible for better informing its target public, no?

Positive evolutions

Anyway, the organization sees positive evolution to charging infrastructure, another old sore with the anti-EV movement, among the fear that the electricity grid won’t be able to cope with demand. The latter was contradicted by experts on several occasions, saying it won’t be a problem if not everyone is charging at the same time at home in the evening.

With 24 000 charging points currently available, according to Touring, Belgium is performing among the best in Europe, close behind the guiding country, the Netherlands. That is one public charger for every three EVs, with 71 6em on Belgian roads today.

Still, according to Touring’s Communication Director Joost Kaesemans (and former spokesperson for car federation Febiac), the EV’s growing range and the expanding charging infrastructure – especially high-speed chargers – will be crucial to winning the hesitating Belgian over.

“Although electric cars are getting further and further on a charge, the motorist wants an even longer driving range of his e-car. But that means larger battery packs and heavier and more expensive vehicles. At the same time, the purchase price is already the biggest obstacle. We can break this vicious circle with a comprehensive and robust charging station network,” Kaesemans adds.




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