Polish electromobility with a pulled brake

There is still little interest in electric cars. The reason? High prices and lack of infrastructure.

Electromobility as the driver of the Polish economy, one million electric cars on our roads in 2025, production of our own electric vehicles – these are among the key economic priorities of the Polish government.

The prepared changes in the law are to push forward their implementation. It will be difficult because, on the one hand, there is little interest in electric cars in our country and on the other hand, there is a lack of the necessary infrastructure.

No charging stations

The development of charging stations is to be stimulated by the regulatory system enabling the construction of a public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The Act specifies the minimum number of charging points to be installed in municipalities by 31st December 2020. It’s about 6,000 standard electric charging points, 400 high-power charging points and 70 CNG refuelling stations.

In the first years the infrastructure will be developed according to the market principles. This means that public charging stations can be built through open tenders. However, if the market fails and this minimum number has not been reached by 15th January of 2020, the burden of infrastructure development will be borne by distribution network operators.

So far, the charging infrastructure is very poor in Poland. According to the European Observatory on the Alternative Fuels Market (EAFO), 682 chargers were available throughout Poland at the beginning of November, while in almost four times smaller Austria there are more than seven times as many chargers.

Until now, chargers have been built mainly by energy companies. Recently, Orlen has expanded its network building programme. To this end, it has selected a total of 150 petrol stations, both in cities and along transit routes.

In the first stage of the pilot program, by the end of 2019, about 50 fast charging points will have been launched. As part of the project, by 2019 electric car drivers are to be able to travel all over Poland along the main communication routes, charging vehicles at stations belonging to the concern.

The General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA) has also selected locations for fast charging points along the main roads of the European TEN-T network. However, there is no shortage of sceptics as to the success of the plans.

“Considering the small number of electric cars, both station operators and companies that are to build charging stations may come to the conclusion that the project will not pay off,” you can hear in GDDKiA.

There are, however, some new initiatives: in November, the first chargers were launched by the railway. The first devices appeared in Silesia, near Katowice, Katowice Ligota, Częstochowa and Gliwice stations. Using the chargers does not require registration, special access cards or applications. In the first months charging is to be free of charge.

It is planned to install more devices at selected stations in other provinces. By the end of 2018. PKP intends to launch 10 loaders, among others, in Gdańsk and Warsaw. But that wouldn’t be enough to increase the interest in electric cars.

Poor interest

Especially as the sale of electric cars is below expectations even in the richest and largest European markets. Germany is an example: although in the first half of 2018 there were 17.3 thousand electric cars registered, which represents an annual increase of almost 69%, according to the National Electromobility Platform (NPE), which is an advisory body of the German government, the target of one million „e-cars” on the roads in 2020 is unrealistic.

“We have to be honest: despite all the progress in the field of electromobility, some issues take a little longer than we assumed eight years ago,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel during the presentation of her latest analysis of the NPE.

The main obstacles to reaching the target are the still high prices of electric cars compared to combustion-powered cars, their too small range and too few charging stations.

According to the information from the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management, 70,000 ordinary and 7,000 fast chargers are needed in Germany for the proper operation of one million electric cars. At the moment, however, there are only 13,500 charging stations across the country, with only 13% of them being the most desirable high-speed chargers for drivers, according to Deutsche Welle.

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