Triumph of electric vehicles could arrive sooner than 2035

PHEV vehicle charging.
PHEV vehicle charging. Source: ERR

The European Union recently decided to ban the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2035. Electric vehicles will probably be more numerous and cheaper before that time arrives.

EU emissions targets are getting more stringent for carmakers, said Alan Vaht, head of electric mobility at fuel retailer Alexela. In this light, it makes sense manufacturers are racing to perfect and polish their electric vehicles and make them cheaper, as the winner of that race is looking at increased market share.

"Most carmakers have said they no longer plan to offer gasoline or diesel cars after 2030," Vaht said.

Therefore, internal combustion engine or ICE cars might not be the cheaper option for much longer. Falling manufacturing volumes of ICE vehicles will inevitably hike their price, while the trend is just the opposite for electric vehicles (EVs).

"Previously more optimistic forecasts suggested we could reach parity as early as in 2026. While I cannot tell you whether it will be 2026 or 2028, I'm quite sure it won't be 2035," said Johannes Peetre, head of the mobility department of the Transport Administration.

But the charging network needs to catch up. Because personal vehicles spend most of their time parked, whether at home, work or in shopping mall parking lots, there is plenty of time for charging them. It is already possible to buy a home charger that can top up an EV's battery by morning for under €1,000. It is more problematic with older apartment buildings, in Lasnamäe, for example, where all residents would have to agree to install them and where space is in short supply.

"New buildings must ensure base infrastructure to support EV charging, with the chargers themselves following later," Peetre said.

Shopping centers could have rapid chargers capable of restoring a few hundred kilometers of range in just 15 minutes, while this is more expensive. Perhaps more expensive than running a gasoline car even. Rapid chargers are rather a way out of trouble. For example, when you need to make a longer trip, said Raul Potisepp, executive manager of Eleport that installs EV chargers. But rapid chargers are also becoming faster and cheaper.

"I have been using EVs to move between Tallinn and Võru for the last five years. If five years ago, I drove one that needed to be topped up three or four times on the way, my car today needs just one 15-minute charging break," Potisepp said.

Whether infrastructure can catch up in good time and whether EV production can be ramped up to avoid queues stretching into years is hard to tell. That said, the course has been set, and it is likely that half of all vehicles are electric by 2040, Peetre's calculations suggest.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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