08.08.2017 12:00   International

Expensive and complicated: Why there will be no total switch to electric cars in Russia

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Experts polled by TASS have shared their views on the prospects of electric cars in Russia

There will be no total switch to electric cars in Russia, said experts and car producers interviewed by TASS. Some believe that the reason is in scarcely developed infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations and other technical and economic problems, while others think that Russia has its own way of development.

Climate, distance and city inconveniences

Partner of the Autostat analytical agency Igor Morzharetto believes that Russia has particular aspects of its own, connected, primarily, with the climate and large distances. "At today’s stage of technological development, the electric car is good for countries where it is warm, roads are smooth and there are no traffic jams. Everyone in Russia is against electric cars now, if, of course, there won’t be any serious technological breakthroughs, for example, some company finally makes a high-capacity battery that would also be cheap, provide driving distance for one thousand kilometers and would take five minutes to be charged," he explained. Use of electric cars in cities, where people mainly live in 15 to 20-storied buildings, also presents difficulties. According to Director of the Institute of Transport Economy and Policy of the Higher School of Economics, Mikhail Blinkin, it is very difficult to organize recharging in Moscow for a person who lives on the 28th floor, whereas American and European electric car users mainly live in low-rise suburbs.

Car producers’ assessment

High prices for electric cars also make them inaccessible for ordinary car users. BMW Group Russia’s Director for Corporate Communications Vasily Melnikov explained that electric car sales are low in Russia, and few people can afford exploitation of such a car. "Development of the electric car market in Russia is in its infancy for now, which means very few cars were sold. The market is mainly supported by clients from the highly-remunerative segment, as only they can afford necessary infrastructure for using electric transport," he explained. According to the Autostat analytical agency, 21 new electric cars (compared to 25 for the similar period last year) were sold in January - May 2017 in Russia, mostly Tesla (15 cars) and also Renault and Nissan (3 cars each). In 2016, the Russian electric car marked saw a reduction by 28.4%: 83 new electric cars were sold, compared to 116 the previous year.

No neglect for technologies

According to a representative of the Russian truck producer, Russia will be able to switch to electric cars 50 years later, but it is necessary to develop these technologies now, because 80% of emissions are made by transport in megapolises with a population of more than one million people. Meanwhile, in 2015 Renault Russia and Rosseti clinched an agreement on cooperation to create a charging infrastructure for the electric transport. In February 2017, a three-lateral agreement on creation of favorable conditions for the electric transport development in the region was signed with the Krasnodar Region’s administration during the Sochi Investment Forum. "Green zones" within Sochi, Adler and the Olympic Park - which only electric cars could access - were determined within a pilot project. Besides, Renault Russia has a low-cost electric car for the Russian market, Renault Twizy, which costs 800,000 rubles ($13.3mln) and higher.

At another point, a representative from the electric car production company said that such electric car has a much shorter driving distance, is small (for example, Twizy is 2.34x1.2 meters) and was designed mostly for commercial use.

An alternative for Russia

The experts interviewed by TASS believe that future belongs to alternative fuel vehicles. There are different variants, apart from electric cars: hybrid fuel, natural gas motor fuel and hydrogen fuel. "For now, it is a rather economically unpredictable variant, but it is necessary to address it as it is really a global trend. However, I always say that we have a path of our own, and development of cars that use gas, natural gas motor fuel, is more vital to us. This is more important to Russia," partner of the Autostat analytical agency Igor Morzharetto explained. Today’s world is searching for alternative fuel transport that would not contaminate the environment. Electric cars may occupy a larger segment than today, but they will not be the future’s only transport for sure.

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