By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's rollout of vehicle charging points is not keeping up with the strong growth in electric car sales, an industry group said on Wednesday, warning that a lack of infrastructure could hamper future sales of low-emission vehicles.
Sales of battery and plug-in hybrid cars in the European Union and Britain reached 458,915 vehicles last year, 110% more than in 2017, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said.
The number of charging points grew by 58% over the same period, however, to just shy of 200,000.
"This is potentially very dangerous, as we could soon reach a point where growth of electric vehicle uptake stalls if consumers conclude there are simply not enough charging points where they need to travel, or that they have to queue too long for a fast charger," ACEA Director General Eric-Mark Huitema said in a statement.
While the coronavirus pandemic has sent overall car sales tumbling this year, combined sales of battery and plug-in hybrid models have increased - helped by tougher EU car emissions standards, and national support schemes to boost post-pandemic recovery.
ACEA urged the European Commission to speed up a planned review of EU rules on charging infrastructure, and set binding targets for countries to deploy more chargers.
An EU clean transport strategy, expected later this year, will "aim to boost the deployment of EU-wide charging infrastructure and increase the number of charging stations," a Commission spokesman said.
The executive plans to use EU funds to help install the one million public recharging and refuelling stations it says will be needed for the 13 million low-emissions vehicles expected on Europe's roads by 2025.
NGOs said such efforts should target priority areas.
"This means first and foremost private charging in buildings and business premises where cars are parked," said Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles director at Transport & Environment.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)