Expert: Sale of EVs to grow to 10 percent in a few years in Estonia

EV charging station.
EV charging station. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Even though EVs made up just 3.4 percent of new cars sold in Estonia last year, their relative importance will grow to 10 percent in a matter of just a few years, car expert Raido Toonekurg believes.

"Yes, I firmly believe it will be 10 percent growth by 2026-2027," Raido Toonekurg, head of car software developer Modera, said on the "Terevisioon" morning show on Monday.

He said that 12 percent of all new cars registered in Europe were electric in 2022, up from 9 percent the previous year.

"If they want all new vehicles sold to be electric by 2035, growth will have to be 10 percent [annually]," Toonekurg remarked.

Toonekurg also pointed to differences between countries. EV sales came to 16-17 percent in countries that are home to major manufacturers, while they were as low as in Estonia, for example, in Austria.

Commenting on the situation in Norway, where EVs make up 80 percent of new vehicles sold, Toonerkurg said that it is the result of targeted government policy.

"Norway has historically sported rather steep car taxes. When the Norwegian government made it a priority more than five years ago, taxes were lowered (for electric vehicles - ed.). The situation is a result of consumer subsidies. And the consumer always votes with their feet, as the saying goes," he said.

Toonekurg believes charging infrastructure will come along

The expert said that while charging infrastructure has not been sufficiently developed, this will change as the focus shifts to EVs, adding that the need for chargers is often exaggerated.

"The average person drives 200 kilometers between Monday and Sunday. This can be achieved on a single charge. Therefore, it is not all that mystical. It has been discussed how many chargers parking lots would need. Charging once a week, having a charger on every fifth parking space would be enough," he said.

Toonekurg also said that as someone who knows economics, he believes the world can solve the potential shortage of lithium-ion batteries and that more will be manufactured outside China, in USA and Europe. "I believe in economics, that market economy will sort it out and solutions will be found," he said.

Recent cars will not disappear overnight

Toonekurg calmed those who fear an abrupt transition. "Internal combustion engine cars will not go anywhere. It has perhaps not been explained that while 20,000-30,000 new vehicles are sold in Estonia every year, we have 830,000 registered vehicles of which a few hundred thousand do not participate in traffic. Therefore, new car sales make up just 4-5 percent of the fleet. And it's still possible you will buy an ICE vehicle in 2034 and drive it for the next decade."

"The cars already on the streets will not disappear either. We are at the start of a major process. The internal combustion engine has been in use for over a hundred years, and we are now switching to electric motors. And we have been given 12 years to really get it started," he said.

Toonekurg said he believes there will be more choice of EVs, their price will come down and range continue to grow.

EU in the home stretch of switching to EVs

The European Parliament on February 14 approved new emissions targets for passenger vehicles and small vans as part of Fit for 55, according to which such vehicles sold after 2035 must not emit any CO2 emissions. By 2030, new passenger cars must emit 55 percent less and vans 50 percent less emissions compared to the 2021 level.

The initiative has already been approved by the European Council.

The transport sector is responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, and transport emissions need to be reduced by 90 percent if the EU is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Commission believes that the new rules give the car industry confidence to invest, promote innovation and competition to bring down the price of EVs.

The EU regulation does not concern trucks and buses.


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Editor: Maits Ots, Marcus Turovski

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