Almost three quarters of Europe’s car charging points are located in just three EU countries, according to findings by the industry trade body, highlighting the “imbalance” of the region’s electric vehicle network.

ACEA, which represents Europe’s carmakers, warned that poorer nations with fewer charging points risk being left behind by Brussels-issued bloc-wide rules that will drive higher electric car sales later this decade.

Its findings show the Netherlands has 66,665 charging points, or 30 per cent of the EU’s entire network, while France and Germany each have about 45,000. The three between them have 70 per cent of the network. Romania, in contrast, has just 493 points, while Lithuania has 174.

The body warned that “a two-track infrastructure rollout is developing along the dividing lines between richer EU member states in western Europe and countries with a lower GDP in eastern, central and southern Europe”.

The European Commission will next month issue its latest rules for carbon reduction across the car industry, and is widely expected to tighten the current requirements significantly.

Carmakers including Volkswagen and Peugeot-owner Stellantis have pumped billions into investing in new electric cars to meet the existing rules, which came into force last year.

The industry is already expecting to increase production significantly over the decade in order to keep pace both with rising consumer demand and with new emissions rules.

As the rules stand today, carmakers must lower CO2 emissions from their fleets by 37.5 per cent by 2030 or face heavy fines. The new requirement is expected to be as high as 50 per cent, which would dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles sold across Europe.

If the target is increased to 50 per cent, a figure supported by environmental groups, then the region needs about 6m public charging points, according to the commission’s calculations. This compares with 225,000 currently available.

ACEA wants any change in electric vehicle rules to include country-specific charging point targets.

Director-general Eric-Mark Huitema said: “Anyone who wants to buy an electric or fuel cell car depends on having reliable charging or refuelling infrastructure — whether that is at home, at work and on the road.

“The time has come for governments across Europe to pick up speed in the race to greener mobility.”

Electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for 10 per cent of all cars sold across the EU last year, according to ACEA figures. Germany with 194,000 was the largest market for battery cars, with 111,000 in France and 73,000 in the Netherlands.

The UK, which is no longer a member of the EU and not counted in the figures, had sales of 108,000, ACEA said.