Bulgaria Has Potential for Production of Electric Vehicles, Expert Says

 Bulgaria Has Potential for Production of Electric Vehicles, Expert Says

Bulgaria Has Potential for Production of  Electric Vehicles, Expert  Says

Sofia, November 10 (Roumyana Zasheva of BTA) - Bulgaria has a potential for assembly of electric vehicles and for production of components for them, Kamen Vassilev from the Board of the Bulgarian Association of Electric Vehicles, said in a BTA interview. The sales of electric cars in Bulgaria are meagre due to low purchasing power and lack of awareness of the advantages these vehicles offer, but a catalogue of incentives can change that, he said.

A proof of the potential of Bulgaria in the manufacture of electric vehicles are a number of companies across the country which have a successful business in various branches of the automotive industry. There is even a Bulgaria-based company which makes electric buses. It used German and Chinese technology, and imported components. Its biggest clients are in the Nethernlands, France and Israel, said Vassilev.

He argued that driving an electric car in the city is not a goal per se: it helps lower noise and air pollution. Sofia is among the European cities which are worst affected by air pollution and noise and replacing the existing dramatically outdated vehicle fleet with electrical vehicles could help change this situation, give more comfort to city dwellers and lower the costs for health care for the whole society, Vassilev added.

He believes that the local authorities are beginning to appreciate this and are looking for ways to encourage the use of electric cars. The owners of electric vehicles, for example, don't pay road tax and can park at no cost in central Sofia (in the Blue Zone where parking now costs 2 lev per hour) and several other large cities.

But things should go farther and municipalities should be transitioning to electric public transport for which they can even use EU funding, Vassilev said.

At this stage the local and central governments remain passive: a plan for green contracts whereby 6 per cent of all public procurement contracts for vehicles and infrastructure for the administration should have been "green" in 2014, remained unfulfilled.

Other reasons why electric cars don't sell well is the low purchasing power of Bulgarians and poor awareness of the profitability and other advantages of electric cars, said Vassilev.

Official statistics shows that at the end of 2014 there were 497 electric and 1,031 hybrid cars in Bulgaria. "It does not seem much but the growth is impressive: during one year alone the number of electric cars has increased by 36 per cent and this trend can only continue."

No special studies have been made but the profile of the electric car owner is a young and well educated person who is open to the new technologies, said Vassilev.

Various incentives can help make an ostensible change in the use of electric cars. In one example, the owners of an old diesel car can be offered a one-off payment if they scrap their car and replace it with an electric car. This is exactly what Norway does and there, thanks to a combination of incentives, one in every three cars purchased in the first quarter of 2015 was an electric car or a hybrid, Vassilev said. Allowing electric cars to use the bus lanes is another strong incentive that the Bulgarian authorities could consider, he added.

Some companies in Bulgaria have switched to electric cars altogether. Among them is a courier company, a bank, a pizza restaurant which delivers, a distribution company and a taxi company in Sofia, said Vassilev.

He hopes that by 2020 the total number of electric and hybrid vehicles in Bulgaria will cross the 30,000 mark.

The Bulgarian market offers several options for electric cars in different classes, functionality and payment schemes. An electric city car could cost somewhere in the 25,000-70,000 leva range.

The process of increasing the fleet of electric cars in Bulgaria will also depend on how fast car dealers will go into the business of used electric cars and car repair shops start offering services for electric cars, added Vassilev.

Source: Sofia