About the electric vehicles

The family of environmentally friendly vehicles includes cars that use biofuel and hydrogen, and hybrids (usually electricity + fossil fuel) are also half a step towards a cleaner future. For example, the Nordic countries have been working on the Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway project for several years now, which includes building a network of hydrogen stations and buying hydrogen cars. However, it seems that the electric engine is expected to provide the biggest breakthrough in the organisation of sustainable transport.

Electric cars

Every major car manufacturer develops and/or manufactures an electric car these days. The Estonian Development Fund referred to a survey conducted by the Roland Berger consultation company, which indicates that the car market will change more than ever before in the next 15 years.

It is likely that in just 10 years’ time, the average motorist will be driving a small environmentally friendly electric car that is connected to the Internet. A car that they don’t even own, but rent via a joint usage scheme, for example. The survey highlights some important points to explain the background of the changes:

  • people will be more matter-of-fact about cars – changing the attitude of people who drive is one of the most important things in this process. Young people in developed countries are less interested in owning or driving a car when compared to other things or activities. Cars are losing their importance as status symbols. Traffic restrictions in cities reduce the attraction of owning a car – people who spend a lot of time in city centres find it’s easier to get about without a car. The survey indicates that the interest of young Germans in cars has waned considerably when compared to bicycles or public transport;
  • more electricity – petrol and diesel engines will not disappear, but their share will decrease considerably and in the event of favourable developments, almost a half of all cars in Europe will be electric or hybrid by 2025;
  • car like an iPhone – intelligent and ‘online’ cars offer completely new additional and entertainment services. The example here is Apple, which created a fertile environment for simple and constantly updated additional services and applications with its iPhone and other products. In the car industry, a model like this means the emergence of new business opportunities outside the traditional car industry.

Three possible case scenarios, which describe the future of the car industry, are analysed in the report on the basis of trends:

  • the high-tech case scenario, which is characterised by a high technological level, Internet connection, web-based additional services and strong competition between those who provide content and infrastructure. Partners from outside the traditional car industry are involved in the development;
  • in the event of the budget case scenario, inflation and the tax burden would reduce the purchase power of consumers, and people would start to prefer simple and cheap cars. Pay-per-use schemes are common. The manufacturers’ key to success is cutting development and production costs, as for consumers, cars compete with other convenience goods;
  • the durable model describes a world where both regulations as well as the values and environmental awareness of people set limits on transport. Being environmentally friendly is an advantage for manufacturers and the share of electric cars in the portfolio is bigger than in the case of the other case scenarios.

Benefits of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles cause less pollution and noise, and they are also more sustainable. At the current electricity prices in Estonia, the cost of driving 100 km in an ordinary electric car would be a little over €2.

Increasing the share of electric vehicles helps countries achieve the climate policy goals set by the European Union, which states that 10 percent of all means of transport must use energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Buying an electric car with the state’s support

The state of Estonia supports private persons who buy or lease electric cars via KredEx. The maximum rate of support is €18,000, but the support granted does not exceed more than 50 percent of the acquisition price or €1,000 per 1 kWh battery capacity, depending on which is lower. The support can be used until the end of 2012.

People who are granted support are obliged to acquire green certificates according to the distance traveller per year in order to guarantee that the vehicles bought with the support use green energy.