Electrical mobility in Türkiye – trends and opportunities

EnergyTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2023 • 27.06.2023

Based on the aim of compliance with the objectives of the European Green Deal, Turkiye’s e-mobility sector has been experiencing a significant development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and to accelerate the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable mobility. Fundamental to Turkiye’s successful transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 is a comprehensive national charging system.


While policies and incentives can be put in place to speed up vehicle sales, parallel policies and programs are needed to ensure that these vehicles can be charged in convenient, efficient, sustainable, and affordable ways. To ensure that charging systems grow in tandem with vehicle sales, the Turkish government must coordinate the deployment of public and private charging infrastructure to support all kinds of EV operators—from private vehicles to fleets of all types of vehicles, including public sector purchases at all levels of government. Fortunately, ample international experience is available, from which Turkiye can choose the methods most suitable to the country’s needs and circumstances.


The necessary EV charging network

Unless there are publicly accessible charging stations to supplement home and office chargers in all contexts ­ urban, peri-urban, rural, and long-distance, mass adoption of EVs will remain slow. The need for such charging facilities in densely populated areas is particularly important for Turkiye, given the large share of the population living in apartments and having limited access to charging areas near their home. The need for public facilities in rural areas and along the highways connecting distant population canters is self-evident, states a World Bank report exploring the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and incentives to support the scale-up of electromobility technologies in Turkiye.

Generally, the charging landscape is divided into two basic systems: (1) private charging stations where access is limited to authorized persons (such as homeowners and residents of apartment buildings, hotels, and business complexes); and (2) publicly accessible charging stations that are available to all (such as those on streets, public parking areas, and shopping areas).

According to World Bank’s document a growing number of energy providers around the world are becoming charge point operators and e-mobility service providers. Their goals are to build stronger customer relationships, address consumers’ needs, and increase sales. In the years to come, smart charging applications such as vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration will come to link energy providers and EV drivers. V2H integration acts as a local storage system that can draw electricity from the EV battery; the EV can feed excess energy into the home, allowing bidirectional usage of energy between home and EV. This trend has induced hardware manufacturers to develop bidirectional V2H chargers. In the future, a DC wall box will be a standard feature of smart homes.
Furthermore, traditional players such as automakers are shaping the e-mobility ecosystem by interacting with other players and experimenting beyond their core business. Ionity, for example, is a network of high-power charging stations founded by the BMW Group, Daimler AG, the Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group to facilitate long-distance travel across the European Union. Tesla already offers owners of its vehicles access to a network of charging facilities.

Providers of fleet services such as fuel cards are also making the transition into e-mobility by extending their fuel cards to cover charging costs. Solving critical end-user sticking points and building a seamless charging experience are crucial to succeeding in the fast-emerging ecosystem of e-mobility.
Players from outside the e-mobility industry can also capture pieces of the value chain. Supermarket and hotel chains can offer EV charging in their parking areas and connect value-added services such as loyalty programs to their EV charging services to maintain their customer base.


Development steps

EVs can make substantial contributions to Turkiye’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Together with the increasing decarbonisation of electricity generation, EVs will also play a major role in the reduction of local air pollution, especially in urban centres, claims a recent flagship report from the World Bank.

“Without fast-charger coverage all over the country, the EV market may stall, as range anxiety discourages consumers from purchasing EVs. For this reason, the Turkish government should declare a strategic goal to cover the country with a sufficient network of fast chargers, guided by a deployment roadmap. Planning where to build charging stations involves multiple factors, chief among them assuring EV users that they will be able to travel reliably across the country and tracking where current driver density and gasoline and diesel consumption are greatest. (The rationale for the latter factor is to predict where EV density and charging demand are likely to be greatest as conventional vehicles are replaced.) Technical standards are being established to ensure usability for different brands of EVs. Work has begun to coordinate electricity distribution services (by DSOs) and electricity supply, to determine the costs of installing EV charging infrastructure, and to manage tariff setting”, states World Bank’s report on the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and incentives to support the scale-up of electromobility technologies in Turkiye.

The document informs that as yet Turkiye has no medium- or long-term policy to transform the EV market. No target has been announced for EV uptake or for the deployment of EV charging infrastructure, and no limitations have been placed on the use or sale of internal combustion engine vehicles. Thus, the extent to which EV charging stations will ultimately be promoted and regulated through official policy remains unclear, but the outcome is likely to be suboptimal unless decisive action is taken.
Turkiye’s current legislation, plans, and policies for the deployment of EVs, EV charging infrastructure, and electric public transportation are reflected in the 11th Development Plan (2019 – 23), the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (2017 – 23), and a regulation to improve the energy efficiency of the transportation sector (Official Gazette, May 2, 2019).

“Energy Systems Planning for EVs” appears in the 2019 – 23 strategy document of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources as Target 2.4. The related task (2.4.1) is the “Preparation of Reports about the Impact of Electric Vehicles on the Electrical System and the Planning of the System Infrastructure.” The ministry’s Department of Energy Efficiency and Environment (EVCED) is named as the lead institution for the task, and the General Directorate of Energy Affairs (EIGM), Turkish Electricity Transmission Joint Stock Company (TEIAS), Turkish Electricity Distribution Joint Stock Company (TEDAS), and Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) are named as cooperating institutions.



World Bank’s report suggests that in order to provide regional coverage, Turkiye could be divided into zones. As the western part of the country is more developed, the zones are narrower (about 25 km) than those in the eastern part (about 50 km). Using this approach, the number of zones is 966. In addition, there are 123 rest areas (most of which include service stations) on the highways. Counting the regional coverage and highway coverage together, it is estimated that 1089 DC fast chargers would be sufficient to cover all of Turkiye.

“As this deployment plan is not demand oriented but is needed to provide the geographical coverage required to sustain the growth of the EV market, a rapid rollout would be optimal. It is proposed that the network of about 1089 fast charging stations be completed by early 2025. Turkiye should be divided into regions for soliciting bids to build charging stations. All regions should include commercially attractive and unattractive subregions, so that bidders can be mandated to install charge points in less commercially attractive areas”, states the document.

In the not-too-distant future, EVs and EV charging infrastructure, if of sufficient scale and properly coordinated and supported with smart-grid and load-management technologies, could also smooth the shape of the daily demand load and allow EVs to be utilized as power storage units. By returning power to the grid, EV batteries can increase grid flexibility, thereby supporting the transition of the power system from centrally managed power plants to decentralized (renewable) energy production.


Factors for a viable EV charging ecosystem

Cities and municipalities (especially those of small or medium size) are under growing pressure to help residents and local businesses transition to sustainable mobility and, in so doing, to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution. There are many opportunities for municipalities to electrify their publicly owned fleets by replacing their existing vehicle pools with EVs and building public charging networks. EV charging solutions are expected to be a major trend in the coming years, with a high potential for additional revenue generation for the municipalities, claims World Bank’s report on the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and incentives to support the scale-up of electromobility technologies in Turkiye.

The biggest driver of e-fleet adoption is its compelling business case: EVs tend to have a lower total cost of ownership. Vehicle fleet operators (such as corporations, car rental agencies, and governments) have been early adopters of EVs. They are particularly attractive to companies with fleets with predictable and consistent demands (in terms of size, load, and range), as they make it possible to substantially reduce the total cost of ownership by lowering fuel and maintenance costs, states World Bank’s report.

For small towns and tourist destinations that rely on highway access for visitors, EV infrastructure could determine the economic sustainability of local businesses, adds the document. Coordination of small business groups, such as local chambers of commerce, may be needed to build local charging infrastructure efficiently. Regulations on heritage preservation and planning may be potential barriers for developing charging infrastructure in Turkiye.

Business opportunities for Turkiye lie in filling infrastructure gaps between regions and cities. Consumer-facing businesses such as service stations, convenience stores, hotels, and restaurants should be able to profit by introducing fast EV charging. Partnerships between utilities and regions can speed up the build-out of fast charging stations along highways in the country.

According to World Bank’s report though, despite the opportunities just described, intercity regional fast-charging networks will have to be incentivized, because they will not be economically feasible in the early stages, despite being indispensable for intercity travel using EVs.

Regulatory gaps can be a significant barrier to progress, points out World Bank’s report on the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and incentives to support the scale-up of electromobility technologies in Turkiye. Assessments of national approaches to regulating charging infrastructure in other countries reveal opportunities for improvements in the country’s practices. Broad topics include ways to incentivize or mandate development of public and private charging stations; regulations and technical standards for charge points; and tariff setting and connection fees.

Last but not least, although the commercial feasibility of charging infrastructure is fundamental to the economic sustainability of e-mobility in Turkiye, it is important to not overlook the social good of a reliable, geographically distributed EV charging network and the reduction of emissions in terms of public health, climate mediation, and country commitments, concludes World Bank’s report.