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Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) and its impact on the e-mobility sector 

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The recent Infrastructure for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) in Europe, which was formally approved at the end of July 2023, is poised to have a substantial impact on the e-mobility sector. In this article, Ilenia Lombardo, General Counsel and DPO at Last Mile Solutions, explains what AFIR all is about and how it will influence our sector.

What is AFIR?

The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) is part of the Fit for 55 package. Presented by the European Commission on 14 July 2021, the package aims at enabling the EU to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and at achieving climate neutrality in 2050.

The objective of AFIR is threefold:

  1. to ensure that there is a sufficient infrastructure network for recharging or refueling road vehicles or ships with alternative fuels
  2. to provide alternative solutions so that vessels at berth and stationary aircraft do not need to keep their engines running
  3. to achieve full interoperability throughout the EU and to make sure that the infrastructure is easy to use.

What are the key elements of AFIR?

AFIR’s notable provisions include:

  1. Ad hoc payment methods
    • Publicly accessible EV chargers will accept common payment methods such as debit cards and/or QR code payments while providing transparent pricing information.
    • Operators of charge points must provide consumers with comprehensive information electronically, covering aspects like availability and pricing at different stations.
  2. Expanded Charging Network
    Fast recharging stations with a minimum capacity of 150kW for cars and vans must be installed every 60 km along the EU’s primary transport corridors, known as the ‘Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Network’. Recharging stations for heavy-duty vehicles, featuring a minimum output of 350kW, must be deployed every 60 km along the TEN-T core network, and every 100 km on the larger TEN-T comprehensive network, starting in 2025, with full network coverage by 2030. Hydrogen refueling stations catering to both cars and lorries are mandated from 2030 onwards at all urban nodes and every 200 km along the TEN-T core network.
  3. Port and Airport Electrification
    Maritime ports accommodating a specific number of large passenger vessels or container vessels must provide shore-side electricity for such vessels by 2030. Airports are required to offer electricity to stationary aircraft at all gates by 2025 and at all remote stands by 2030.
  4. EV Drivers’ Benefits
    • Transparent and non-subscription-based payment options will be mandatory for publicly accessible charging stations, including QR codes for charging stations under 50kW, and payment card readers for charging stations over 50kW
    • A broader network of charging stations will make long-distance travel more accessible for EV drivers.
    • Clear charging cost information will facilitate better budgeting and comparison of charging rates.
    • Charging station operators will be compelled to offer information on availability, enhancing the overall experience for EV drivers.

From idea to reality

Looking back, the initial directive established in 2014 laid the groundwork for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure across the Union, with the aim of reducing dependence on oil and minimizing the environmental impact of transport. This directive outlined minimum requirements for building such infrastructure, including recharging and refueling points for electric vehicles, natural gas, and hydrogen, while also setting common technical specifications and user information standards.

The adoption of the European Green Deal in December 2019 and the subsequent European Climate Law and Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy in 2020 further emphasized the EU’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and transitioning to a climate-neutral economy.

Following its publication in the EU’s Official Journal of 22nd September 2023, AFIR Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication and shall apply across all EU Member States from 13th April 2024, eliminating the need for individual implementation by each country (as stated at article 26 AFIR).

By January 1st, 2026, the Commission will assess the national policy frameworks implemented by the Member States, reporting to the European Parliament and Council on their coherence at the Union level and evaluating the expected attainment of national targets and objectives.

Through the expansion of charging infrastructure, improved payment options, and cost transparency, AFIR Regulation is set to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, bringing the EU closer to its ambitious climate objectives.

How will AFIR impact the e-mobility sector?

This comprehensive regulatory framework, designed to support the expansion of alternative fuel infrastructure, particularly electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, will influence various facets of the e-mobility sector and more specifically:

  1. Accelerated Expansion of Charging Infrastructure: AFIR sets clear deployment targets for charging infrastructure along key transport corridors and networks. By mandating the installation of fast recharging stations for cars and vans every 60 km along the TEN-T network, and even more powerful charging stations for heavy-duty vehicles, the regulation will significantly enhance the accessibility of charging points. This expansion will make long-distance travel more convenient and reliable for EV drivers, thereby boosting the appeal of electric mobility.
  2. Boost in Consumer Confidence: Knowing that charging infrastructure is becoming more ubiquitous and reliable, potential EV buyers are more likely to have confidence in the availability of charging points during their journeys. This increased confidence can drive consumer adoption of electric vehicles, contributing to the growth of the e-mobility sector.
  3. Greater Convenience and User Experience: AFIR mandates more common payment options, eliminating the need for subscriptions and promoting payment transparency. The introduction of QR code payments for publicly accessible charging stations simplifies the payment process further. Additionally, charging station operators must provide real-time information on availability. These provisions enhance the overall user experience, making electric mobility more attractive to consumers.
  4. Cost Transparency and Efficiency: By requiring clear charging cost information upfront, AFIR enables EV drivers to better budget for their journeys and compare charging rates. This transparency can lead to lower travel costs for consumers, further incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles.
  5. Support for Heavy-Duty EVs: AFIR’s focus on deploying high-capacity charging stations for heavy- duty vehicles is significant. This supports the growth of electric buses, trucks, and other commercial vehicles, reducing emissions and noise pollution in urban areas. It can also stimulate innovation in the production of heavy-duty electric vehicles.
  6. Alignment with Climate Goals: AFIR aligns with the European Union’s climate goals, aiming at a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050. The regulation contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, a crucial step in achieving these goals.
  7. Economic Opportunities: The expansion of the e-mobility sector, driven by AFIR, presents economic opportunities. It stimulates investment in the manufacturing and deployment of EV charging infrastructure, creates jobs in the electric vehicle industry, and fosters innovation in energy-efficient transportation solutions.
  8. Cross-Border Mobility: AFIR’s harmonization of charging infrastructure standards across EU Member States enhances cross-border mobility for EV drivers. This simplifies travel, particularly for those planning trips across multiple countries, further encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles.

In conclusion, the AFIR European Regulation is set to have a transformative impact on the e-mobility sector. By expanding charging infrastructure, introducing more payment options, and enhancing user experiences, AFIR creates a more favorable environment for electric mobility, which in turn contributes to the EU’s environmental and climate objectives while stimulating economic growth in the e-mobility industry.

Last Mile Solutions

At Last Mile Solutions we are ready for AFIR. Do you want to know more about AFIR or how our solutions can help you? Do not hesitate to contact us.