A snapshot of EVs and sustainable mobility in Spain

24 February, 2020

Reliable information on sustainable mobility and the state of diffusion of Electric Vehicles in the country, can be provided by the Spanish EV Observatory. Some of the findings have been shared in a recent article published by the Florence School of Regulation. A summary can be found below.


Spain, like the other EU Member States, is firmly pushing for sustainable development in all the sectors of the industry, in order to reduce emissions and energy dependency. As for the pollution, a significant part of the country’s global GHG emissions (almost 25% in 2015) is to be traced back to road transport and, in addition, pollution limits such the NOx ones have been surpassed constantly in the Spanish major cities in the past years, leading to warnings from the EC.

As a result, and not surprisingly, the electrification of transportation has key importance from an environmental perspective. However, the situation is lagging and there is a lot of room for improvement.

EVs and charging stations:

EVs are not picking up fast in Spain. Even if they are growing, the numbers are still not satisfactory: only 40.000 EVs were present in the country at the end of 2019, with just a 1.25% of electric vehicles on the new total registrations (both battery and plug-in hybrid ones).  The latter figure is significantly less with respect to other countries such as Portugal (6%) or the Netherlands (15%).

The public charging infrastructure is considered to be enough for the existing context: overall, there are around 9.000 stations in the country, meaning 8 fast chargers per 100 km of highway and 5 Plug-in EVs per public charging point.

All of the above is the result of public subsidy strategies for EVs and charging infrastructures that have been put in place in the past years (in plans such as MOVEA-MOVALT in 2017 and MOVES in 2019). However, these incentives have not been deeply effective.

Pollution-control initiatives in the cities and the growth of electric sharing vehicles:

In the major cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, many initiatives to push for sustainability in the transport sector have been created, more related to the control of the emissions than to incentivize EVs directly. Nevertheless, pollution restriction policies have favored the growth of electric sharing vehicles, who now reach significant numbers: in Madrid, among cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and skates, there are almost 30.000 seats available, allowing more than 30 companies to make their business (also from side-services provided thanks to the data collected).

The complexities of effective regulations:

In Spain, as well as in the rest of Europe, the regulation of sustainable mobility proves to be an extremely challenging activity. Many sectors and many levels of the public administration are involved in the process and, as a result, coordination between all the entities involved is crucial. Local, national and European administrations need to work together (vertical coordination), as well as the different sectors (transport, industry, environment, employment, health, finance) and ministries (horizontal coordination).