State to continue supporting electric car purchases

An electric vehicle charging station.
An electric vehicle charging station. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

In order to balance the price difference between more expensive electric cars and cars with internal combustion engines, the state wants to continue to support the purchases of electric cars with the ultimate goal of decreasing the amount of exhaust gas.

The state has previously provided aid up to €5,000 through application rounds to support the purchases of electric cars. Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications transport development chief Indrek Gailan said a study conducted in June showed that the measure could be continued. A final plan will be established in the fall.

"These [application] rounds have been conducted irregularly. Our hope is for these rounds to take place regularly. Consumers would then know ahead of time and could also consider the support package during their purchase. Consultants also said the current level of support for electric cars, which we have implemented - €5,000 per car - is okay in terms of size," Gailan said.

Estonian Association of Car Sales and Service Companies (AMTEL) CEO Arno Sillat said that there would be much fewer electric cars acquired without the support measure. Manufacturers earn less from electric sales than combustion engine sales, but are forced to manufacture the vehicles due to EU norms, which aim to forbid the sales of internal combustion engines by 2035.

"The EU manufactures 16 million cars a year. Today, the production of vehicles with electric engines - not just electric cars, but hybrids, as well - totals more than a million. Meaning, production has to be multiplied by 10 in the next 14 years. Which means multiplying the production of copper, cobalt, lithium and other certain heavy and rare metals by 10, 20, 30. This will not make these metals cheaper," Sillat noted.

The car dealership and service center association head said the EU's emphasis on electric cars is to hopefully replace lithium-based engines with a better alternative. He added that while electric cars are suitable for cities, lack of infrastructure and longer distances in rural areas can be major obstacles.

Estonian Green Movement board member Madis Vasser said better alternatives must also be offered in cities. "This personal car cult we have in Estonia is not sustainable. I read about issues with parking places and traffic jams daily and you cannot solve these issues by building more parking lots and roads. They magically fill up with cars, does not make too much of a difference if they are electric or petrol vehicles," Vasser said.

He added that there should be more societal solutions and not just technological. "If the question is having to encourage or prohibit new machinery, then the best technology available today is certainly the cleanest and most effective. If we look at a larger footprint, the most environmentally friendly method is to extend the transport system. What are the things we can solve with public transportation and where are the places we cannot find replacements for," Vasser said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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