First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 21 November 2013
The automotive sector accounts for 10% of the GDP of Spain’s Catalonia region. It ranks as the second largest automotive manufacturing cluster in Europe and number twelve globally – and in automotive components it is number six in the world. Automotive manufacturers with factories in the Catalonian capital, Barcelona, include Nissan and SEAT (part of the Volkswagen Group). Combine this with the fact that Spain has ample resources of ‘clean’ electricity (from renewables including wind, where Spain ranks number three globally after only the US and China, and solar – as well as nuclear), and it’s no surprise that the city of Barcelona has an established programme to promote electric vehicles.
Barcelona hosted the EVS27 electric vehicles event this week and its automotive credentials were on display for delegates, with standing room only on the (electric) buses offering tours for electric vehicle spotters.
The Logistics for the Implementation of Electric Vehicles (LIVE) programme, a public-private partnership, was set up in 2009, and today the International Energy Agency ranks Barcelona seventh in the list of cities developing electric-mobility initiatives. However, despite a host of incentives, including a 75% reduction in tax on the purchase of an electric car, four years on from the launch of LIVE there are still just 1,000 electric cars on the roads of Catalonia. So, with 500 public free charging points, of which over half are within the city of Barcelona, there’s no need for drivers to queue to replenish their batteries just yet. The recent installation of 15 fast charging points may help tip the balance – but in the meantime the city authorities are actively encouraging the switch to electric vehicles amongst fleets and in the bike sector.