Poland is the largest and most populous market in the Central Eastern European region. This is particularly important because this makes the Polish market highly representative of the challenges and opportunities in the CEE region. Countries in this area of Europe are lagging behind the old EU States, where electromobility and decarbonisation solutions are far more advanced. This difference creates a challenge for the two-speed development of zero-emission road transport in Europe.
The Polish, nascent stage of development in terms of zero emission transport shows these challenges very vividly. There are currently slightly over 20 million passenger cars registered in Poland. The heavy-duty fleet, which is the largest in the EU, is at 1.2 million vehicles (3.5 tons and higher), where out of the 30,000 HDVs registered in 2021, 4 were zero-emission vehicles.
The Polish EV park currently has 50,679 electric (a little over 25,000 BEVs) vehicles and 4,431 charging points (both AC and DC) within the EV charging infrastructure. According to the Polish EV Outlook, which is a leading source of information for both the current and future state of the e-mobility market, these numbers will increase to around 300,000 and 42,000 respectively in 2025. Private charging infrastructure should reach the vicinity of 90,000–115,000 charging points at the same time.
Hence, some of the goals presented by the EU legislation, especially the Fit for 55 package, may be achieved quite easily for leading e-mobility markets like the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark or Scandinavian markets. However, they are very ambitious and difficult for the CEE States, which is viewed well by the Polish market data.
In 2022, Poland is also the number one manufacturer of Lithium-Ion batteries in the EU and a leader in terms of e-buses on a global scale (with a fleet of nearly 800 and Warsaw having one of the 3 largest e-bus fleets in the EU). One must note though, that the transition of the market towards zero-emission transport will change the Polish job market for nearly 280,000 employees from the automotive sector currently working in ICE technologies, while an additional 60,000 will have to re-adapt in the service and maintenance sector of the EV models. The near future also holds the enormous challenge of long-haul transport which will also have to be decarbonized to ensure the full transition of the automotive sector. This area is not only related to vehicles, but to the significant changes which need to take place in terms of high-powered charging infrastructure. This combined with the dire need of changing the Polish energy mix to RES-based solutions and grid investments shows that the number of ventures, projects and innovations crucial for these processes to succeed is on the rise.
Meanwhile, the CEE States offer immense potential for investors in the innovation and new tech areas related to the sustainable transport and e-mobility sectors. For e-mobility, this will include market segments aligned with the industry, such as EV maintenance, EV charging infrastructure manufacturing and maintenance; software for EVs, chargers and lithium-ion battery monitoring related to new EU requirements; recycling technology, IT technology related to sensors and heat monitoring for batteries; grid management and many others.
The Czech Presidency in the Council of the EU which falls within the second half of 2022 is a great chance to address these issues and to bring the voice of the CEE to the table when the crucial EU law for zero emission transport is being shaped for years to come. The series of events planned by various States of the region will play an important role in bringing the most important arguments to the EU-wide discussion. This process will be started at the New Mobility Congress 2022 in Łódź (the third largest city in Poland), on 12-14 September.