The transition from polluting to sustainable mobility is one of the most important levers of European funds. While Spain is at the bottom of Europe in the electric vehicle bet, the present moment offers a great opportunity to reverse this trend.

The Next Generation EU European Fund is already a reality. Spain has received the first 9,000 million euros of this European aid package. The autonomous communities expect to receive 10,500 million euros this year. “We face an important challenge: the funds are starting to function and being distributed,” said Carmen Urraca, European Funds Director at Banco Sabadell, in the webinar Next Generation EU Funds and Sustainable Mobility. How can freelancers and companies benefit from this? organized through HUB Empresa of Banco Sabadell.

The Next Generation EU European Fund aims to promote the economic recovery of the 27 Member States, but also promote the ecological transition and the digitalization of their companies and societies. In fact, the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR) allocates 70% of national investment to projects with ‘green’ or digital purposes.

Specifically, it will spend 40% of the 69,500 million euros corresponding to non-repayable funds on implementing environmental measures and 28% on completing digitization. The bulk of this amount will arrive in Spain over the next two years and will be allocated to strategic projects for the recovery and economic transformation of Public-Private Partnerships (PERTE).

The first PERTE approved by the government has at its epicenter the promotion of sustainable mobility. With an initial amount of 24,000 million euros, of which 4,300 million euros correspond to public investment, it aims to promote both the development and production of electric and connected vehicles as well as their demand.

The Executive is expected to give the green light in the coming months for another sustainability project focused on the agri-food chain and two more on the aerospace and personalized medicine sectors.

In recent weeks, progress has also been made in implementing new calls and subsidies. In September, a grant of 1,000 million euros was launched with the aim of promoting the development of areas with low polluting emissions and more sustainable forms of urban transport.

All municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants can opt for it. The program for research and development of artificial intelligence (AI) is also in force, with a budget of 105 million euros.

To the European queue in the pursuit of the electric car

“The car is in the largest transformation process in its more than 100-year history,” said Manuel Díaz Delgado, partner responsible for the automotive sector at PwC Spain. Green mobility is one of the main arteries of economic recovery in the European Union (EU) and one of the key measures in the plans to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The European Commission’s plans are to limit the sale of cars that emit carbon dioxide by 2035.

As in many industries, the health crisis caused by COVID-19 has dealt a major blow to the auto industry. New vehicle registrations fell by more than 30% in 2020. Although the gradual return to normalcy and the economic recovery are already showing signs of improvement.

The month of August closed with an overall increase in sales of 12%, of which 32% correspond to alternative vehicles (electric, hybrid, gas and non-plug-in hybrid). “The penetration rate of the pure electric car is still very low,” says Díaz Delgado, who warns that Spain is at the bottom of the European countries in this area, only behind Hungary and the Czech Republic. “The fact that we are at the back could be an advantage,” said Ricard Castells, commercial director of Renting Auto at Banco Sabadell, calling for looking at the experience of countries leading the way, such as Norway, so as not to repeat your mistakes .

The charging infrastructures are one of the country’s pending topics. Spain has about 12,000 charging points. 85% also has a very low capacity, leading to very long charging times, between three and 20 hours.

Ultra-fast charging stations will be reduced to 66. “All this limits the use of electric vehicles,” says Díaz Delgado. Limited supply or uncompetitive prices are some of the causes of this trend, which could have numbered its days due to strong public-private investment in the sector.

The MOVES III plan, which has already been approved in all autonomous communities except Cantabria, La Rioja and Extremadura, plans to grant direct aid ranging from 2,000 euros to 9,000 euros for the purchase of non-polluting vehicles. “Probably in the middle of this decade we will find electric cars with reasonable autonomy in urban environments below 20,000 euros,” predicts the partner responsible for the Automotive sector of PwC Spain.

Challenges and opportunities for the ‘green’ transition

“The main barrier is uncertainty about sustainable markets,” says Castells, who also points to some current models with very low autonomy that barely exceed 100 kilometers.

The Next Generation EU European Fund aims to fill these gaps in infrastructure and competitiveness towards an unstoppable reality, such as the commitment to move from combustible mobility to sustainable mobility. “It is a good time to take advantage of European funds so that the price does not become a barrier to sustainable mobility,” she adds.

Some of the benefits reflected in the present moment are the increased social awareness for the fight against climate change, the increase in funding of government support for non-polluting vehicles or the savings that energy represents compared to fossil fuels.

One of the trends that will gain momentum for the future is the commitment to leasing, a sustainable mobility service that includes all services and whose payment depends on the use. “Leasing them can be the great leverage and solution offered by the Next Generation EU European Fund,” concludes Castells.

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