Powering ahead: Shaping the future of electric vehicles

June 21, 2023 | By George Simon
Driving an electric vehicle is part of my everyday life. I live in Belgium, and it has been encouraging to see a gradually increasing presence of EVs on our roads in recent years.
The average greenhouse gas emissions of EVs are between 17% and 30% lower than the emissions of petrol and diesel cars, according to the European Environment Agency. Their potential to drive Europe’s net zero journey forward is indisputable. 
But while automotive innovation continues to attract more Europeans to EVs, there remains a significant hurdle to mass adoption: charging.

Addressing range anxiety

Europe already has over 500,000 charging stations but with EV ownership exceeding 6 million, we have not yet reached a point when drivers can be certain of where their next charge is coming from. Until Europe alleviates this issue, range anxiety will endure. 

From my experience, it’s not the day-to-day trips that pose a challenge. Between home and my office, for example, I know where the best places are to stop and charge my car. Yet when travelling further afield – to visit friends or embark on a family excursion – I find it hard to shake the uncertainty of where the next charging station will be.

Recently I also encountered another layer to this problem. On a longer journey, I realized that my car was low on charge and identified a station where I could stop and plug it in. Yet – as a first-time user – I had to download a new app, input my payment details and verify my account before even thinking about charging my car.

"Imagine the time I could’ve saved if I could’ve paid for my charging session with the tap or swipe of a card of my choice – and without the need for an app. We must aspire to bring this seamlessness to EVs in the same way that we have to public transport."
George Simon

While only minor in isolation, each step added time to my journey and represents the friction that EV-sceptics often cite as a reason to why they wouldn’t switch from fuel.

Progressing through payments

With the EU’s Fit for 55 ambition – to reduce average emissions of new cars by 55% from 2030 to 2034 and by 100% from 2035 – it is fundamental that the region addresses range anxiety and puts the infrastructure in place to make EV the easy option for its motorists. 

This starts with how drivers can access charging stations. Imagine the time I could’ve saved during my recent journey if I could’ve paid for my charging session with the tap or swipe of a card of my choice – and without the need for an app. We must aspire to bring this seamlessness to EVs in the same way that we have to public transport. 

Given the role we played in that journey, Mastercard possesses the expertise, network and technology required to lead Europe towards an interoperable future for EV charging. Our ambition is to support a unified, standardized payment infrastructure that brings seamless convenience to motorists that have gone electric. 

Taking the first steps on the journey

This journey is already underway. In Austria, for example, we’ve equipped more than 100 charging stations with contactless payment capabilities in partnership with Concardis Austria GmbH and EnerCharge.

By powering a new era for the EV charging experience, we further our commitment to contribute to Europe's ambitions to become net zero and lead the world as the first carbon-neutral continent. Our new white paper, "Payment innovation drives user experience and accessibility in EV charging," ­reinforces this message, with guidance on how the industry can collectively improve accessibility.

From the Carbon Calculator to the Priceless Planet Coalition, we are gradually evolving our services and initiatives to ensure anyone Mastercard product can contribute positively to the future of our planet. Through our Sustainability Innovation Lab, in Stockholm, we’re also providing an incubator for fintechs and partners to collaborate and move impactful green solutions from blueprint to market.

That’s our ambition for EV charging. As European proliferation of EVs increases in the coming years, the charging experience must accelerate in tandem. We’re committed to supporting Europe’s drive to lead an EV revolution for the world to follow.

Photo of George Simon
George Simon, EVP, Market Development Europe, Mastercard