Poland wants to have one million electric cars by 2025.

In Central Europe, Austria easily beats the four Visegrad countries. The country of 8.4 million inhabitants registered 5,198 new electric vehicles (including hybrids) in 2015.

In comparison, the Czech Republic registered only 542 electric cars, Hungary 948 and Slovakia 183, according to the ACEA statistics. Poland registered 5.675 electric vehicles; but it has a population of 38.5 million.

Yet, the four Visegrad countries do have high ambitions. This week, Poland announced it wants to have 1 million electric cars on the roads in just 10 years. The other three countries also have their plans and ideas. And it’s not only about making the air cleaner.

A dirty region

In terms of road transport, the V4 belongs to one of the dirtier regions of Europe. Hungary emits the most CO2 per one kilometer driven by passenger cars, according to the EEA data: 129,6 g.

Poland’s emissions are 129,3 and Slovakia’s 127,7 g CO2/km. The Czech Republic has the lowest amount of 126,3. It is however still higher than Austria’s: 123,7.

The Netherlands ranks as one of the cleanest countries with 101,2 g CO2/km. And it is also EU’s leader in e-mobility with almost 60,000 newly registered electric vehicles in 2015.

Poland’s one million

In fact, Poland wants to marry clean mobility to its infamous coal power plants. As the Deputy Energy explained, the big power production cannot be switched at night and electricity is wasted.

“The night valley could become a source of energy for electric cars,” Michal Kurtyka said.

The new push for e-mobility is also designed to support the local industry. The Ministry will set up special funds to help start production and create prototypes of Polish electric cars, Reuters reports. Besides, it will introduce subsidies for buyers and other incentives.

Hungary will have the battery

If Poland fulfilled its goal, it would become the regional leader in e-mobility. But Hungary wants to reserve that title, according to the country’s National Economy Minister quoted by MTI last May.

Mihály Varga announced it wanted to increase the total stock of from several hundreds to 50,000 electric vehicles (including hybrids) by 2020. The government has exempted the owners from the motor vehicle tax and entitled them to free charging and free parking in some cities.

But in Hungary, too, the efforts are linked to the industry, In August, Samsung SDI declared it wanted to build a factory for e-vehicle batteries near Budapest to cover the European demand. The investment is worth 320 million euros.

Czechs and Slovaks in the slower lane

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are in the slower lane, but making plans, too.

According to an action plan approved by the government last year, there should be 250,000 electric cars on the Czech roads by 2030. This month, 1,5 million euros from EU funds were allocated to 53 companies to build electric vehicle fleets.

Some fees are lowered or zeroed for electric car owners.

Slovakia plans to deploy only 35,000 pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2030. It will subsidize them in a way, which will be decided by the end of the year.

Questions and ambitions

As the experience of countries like Austria and the Netherlands shows, the support for electric vehicles will have to pass via government subsidies, direct or indirect ones including tax breaks.

Who will fund them? Who will get them? Will the funding systems be transparent? And will the main goal be just cleaner air or also a more competitive car industry. Who will build the charging stations?

For the moment, many questions hinge over e-mobility in the Visegrad region. The new political zeal is, however, unquestionable. For the moment.

 

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The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 730882.

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