Element Energy

Electric cars already the cheapest option today for many European consumers, Element Energy reveal in BEUC consumer presentation

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On 29th April, BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation lead a wide-ranging online debate on the topic of Electric car ownership: an affordable option for all consumers. This launch event presented research from an extensive Element Energy report Electric Cars: Calculating the Total Cost of Ownership for Consumers, which analysed the Total Cost of Ownership⁽¹⁾ of car powertrains bought new between 2020-30 at an EU-level and in 9 European focus markets⁽²⁾.

Low Carbon Transport Team director, Celine Cluzel, revealed the 5 key messages of the Element Energy study:

  1. Affordable Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are just around the corner – BEVs are already the cheapest powertrain for medium sized cars on a lifetime basis today in Europe
  2. BEVs bring most benefits to less affluent second and third owners – a BEV bought in 2020 will save ca. €8,400 for its combined used owners over an equivalent Petrol ICE
  3. There are opportunities to maximise the benefits of BEVs by educating high mileage users and providing consumers with a range of different battery sizes
  4. Policymakers must mitigate risks to consumers, and ensure that EU and national-level investment, critical for improving charging infrastructure for consumers, is not diverted away into E-fuels and by subsidising the uptake of hybrid vehicles
  5. Tightening European manufacturer CO2 targets is essential to achieve Europe’s decarbonisation ambitions

Launch event slides presented by Transport Team director Celine Cluzel

Wide-ranging implications for EU policy:

Pascal Canfin, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from Renew Europe Group, described how over 50 transport and energy European Directives and regulations will need to be revised and tightened to deliver the European Commission’s Green Deal, which was first announced in December 2019. According to Canfin, “We are at the beginning of a radical transformation of our mobility. Electrification is accelerating and that is why I advocate setting a deadline to phase out combustion vehicles by 2035.”

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General, drew attention to the importance for consumers of strengthening manufacture emission targets and accelerating the roll-out of charging infrastructure:

“The EU’s CO2 emission thresholds for cars are clearly hitting the target. What was more or less sci-fi five years ago, is rapidly becoming a realistic opportunity for the consumers across Europe. Tightening car CO2 targets is therefore a no-brainer and a win for the environment, public health, people’s wallets and social inclusiveness as we fight the climate crisis.

“At the same time, consumer groups do not intend to gloss over the issues people face in the move to electric driving. For those that depend on a car, charging an electric vehicle must become as easy as fuelling a petrol one. That is why we advise the EU to push for more and better charging infrastructure, with easy payment methods and where the prices should also be easily comparable per kilowatt hour.”


A full list of debate speakers included:

Pascal Canfin, European Parliament

Celine Cluzel, Element Energy

Mélissa Chevillard, UFC-Que Choisir (French consumer organisation)

Daniel Mes, European Commission

Julia Poliscanova, Transport & Environment

Monique Goyens, BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation

Petr Dolejsi, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association – ACEA


(1) The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compares vehicles beyond their purchase price to estimate the real cost for consumers throughout the ownerships of a vehicle. This includes: 1) vehicle pricing and components costs; 2) efficiency measures required by EU regulation; 3) market depreciation; 4) fuel/electricity costs and consumption; 5) taxes (VAT, registration tax, annual tax) and subsidies; 6) insurance and maintenance costs.

(2) European Focus market considered in the Element Energy TCO study are: Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal

Acronyms: BEV – Battery Electric Vehicles; ICE – Internal Combustion Engine

About BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation: a umbrella group for 45 independent consumer organisations from 32 countries. BEUC’s main role is to represent its members to the EU institutions and defend the interests of European consumers. This covers a range of topics including competition, consumer rights, digital rights, energy, redress and enforcement, financial services, food, health, safety, sustainability and trade policy.

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