Earlier in June, EU governments agreed to end sales of polluting cars and vans by 2035, introducing a 100 per cent CO2 emissions reduction for all new vehicles.
The idea was proposed by the Commission last year and some Member States have always opposed this decision, considering the 2035 deadline premature. For example, the Polish Minister of Climate and Environment, Anna Moskwa said that in Poland the market and the public are not ready for this or for a responsible declaration of any date. The same reaction came from Romania, whose Minister of Environment Barna Tánczos argued that the reality is that currently, the majority of the population cannot afford to buy an electric car.
ICE cars will not disappear from the market, they will disappear from the new market
Is therefore feasible to end the sales of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars by 2035? Especially in a region like Central and Eastern Europe where surveys and studies indicate a lack of trust in electric vehicles?
According to Tibor Antalóczy, Board Member of the Hungarian Electromobility Association, many companies in Hungary don’t actually believe that this shift is going to happen on time. On the contrary, he is very optimistic that this change is going to happen much sooner than 2035 because there won’t be interest or demand for ICE cars. Although Hungary doesn’t have a legally binding ban, as pointed out by Mr Antalóczy during the New Mobility Congress, which took place on 12-14 September in Lodz, Poland, “Hungary’s market is too small and it won’t probably affect the EU one.”
Also for a small country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, phasing out ICE cars is going to be challenging, but everybody is on board for the green transition.
“We see that more advanced countries are still coping with challenges, so what can we, a small country, do?,” asked Anela Karahasan, senior associate for the energy sector at the Chamber of Economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Secretary of the Association of Electromobility.
“In the Balkans, we have to change people’s mindset,” she said. “We have incentives to buy an e-car for the first time. Furthermore, electromobility brings new business models to our country.”
“We have a strong electricity market, we export a lot so we don’t have problems with that. And we have a strong automotive industry. We must think about how to expand these markets and produce parts for electrical cars.”
Also for Ignac Završnik, Chairman of Slovenia e-Mobility Society, two things are key in this shift towards electromobility: the mindset of people and the creation of new business models that include car sharing and carpooling.
“The registered number of vehicles should be less,” he pointed out. “The lower the number, the fastest we can reach the goals.”
Changing people’s mindset: the biggest challenge of all
But it is not easy to change people’s mindset when they cite financial reasons. Buying an electric car is expensive. On top of that, there is the issue of where to charge it and for how long.
“The upfront investment is high but if we look at the overall cost, the equation is changing,” Tibor Antalóczy tells CEENERGYNEWS. “For the same amount of money, we could buy a second-hand diesel car, using it for a few years and paying for gas. Then we will be forced to buy a new car.”
Mr Antalóczy himself owns an electric vehicle and what changed his mind was the cash flow. He recalls that he used to spend around 100,000 Hungarian forints (approximately 250 euros) per month on gasoline. Switching to an electric vehicle meant a monthly spending of 80,000 Hungarian forints (190 euros) for the leasing and 15,000 Hungarian forints (37 euros) for electricity. Putting it like that, it is much more attractive.
“If we can get people to understand, the landscape will change very quickly.”
“Our government is keeping utility prices artificially low but it is impossible to keep this system working in the long term,” he continues. “The prices are higher again even now and it is an awakening call for a lot of people.”
Mr Antalóczy compares the growth of the EV market with solar panels. In the beginning, people didn’t want to pay to have solar panels on their rooftops, but now they see the benefits. So people can and will change.
Marko Logonder, supervisory board member of the Slovenian e-mobility Society, mentions that the Slovenian government has actually put in place some successful campaigns for its citizens to promote the fact that there is financial coverage for EVs and there are also charging stations where it is possible to charge your car for free. He mentioned that in the country, it is possible to get subsidies for a new EV in the amount of 4,500 euros while companies can deduct VAT on EVs.
Additionally, there are also car saloons that make people try electric vehicles. But, as pointed out by Mrs Karahasan before, the most important aspect is the shift in business models.
“There are around 600 cars in Ljubljana provided by local car sharing companies and they are all, 100 per cent, electric,” he tells CEENERGYNEWS.
“Car sharing is very popular among young people,” adds Mr Završnik.
“And driving an electric car is actually 30 per cent cheaper than ICE ones. The right policies can change the mindset.”
Especially now, with energy prices at a record high, electric cars should be looked at as a good solution.
“In BiH, there are no taxes on importing electric vehicles, so the price will be a bit lower,” underlines Anela Karahasan. “We just need more awareness of these opportunities. Also, car dealers should be part of the process. We don’t have too many brands operating in BiH but it is imperative to switch to electric due to the high levels of air pollution in our country.”
“One thing is clear,” concludes Tibor Antalóczy, “ICE cars will not disappear from the market, they will disappear from the new market.”