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Car dealers: E-vehicle prices still too high to be mass-market product in Estonia

e-vehicle being recharged.
e-vehicle being recharged. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While sales of electric vehicles are rapidly rising worldwide, they are still beyond the price reach of most people in Estonia.

Meelis Telliskivi, CEO of the Estonian Association of Car Dealers and Services (AMTEL), told ERR that: "At the moment, the average price of new vehicles of the most-transacted types is in the range of €25,000-€35,000. Once the price of electric vehicles gets to that level, then I think the interest in them will rise."

So far, prices for e-vehicles sold last year were clearly higher than with gasoline and diesel vehicles, meaning, Telliskivi said, they are not a mass-market product in Estonia yet.

This should change from the supply side, however, Telliskivi said. "Car manufacturers are scrambling on this to make groundbreaking changes in battery tech, which in turn will affect the price of electric vehicles."

"If the aim is to achieve strong sales figures, a product that is more acceptable in terms of price certainly needs to be on offer," he added.

Meanwhile, motoring expert Arno Sillat told ERR that there is likely to be no revolution in the sale of electric cars in 2024, even as growth has been consistent, and somewhat rapid.

"However, of signs of a sudden breakthrough, a sharp upwards rise somehow, so that many more people will start purchasing electric cars, well there is no reason to see that materializing at present."

The Nordic countries' new car markets enjoy a larger share of e-vehicles than is the case in Estonia.

While electric cars make up around a third of total new car sales in Sweden and Finland, in Norway last year, over 80 percent of new car sales were e-vehicles.

For proportions anywhere near this to reach Estonia, batteries will need to get cheaper for one thing – although, as Sillat noted, since e-vehicles' engines are much simpler in their construction than their internal combustion-engined counterparts, and have fewer moving parts, there is plenty of scope for EV prices to drop in future.

In any case the Scandinavian figures are outliers when taking Europe as a whole.

At present, "we are seeing that 1 percent of European car fleets are electric cars, while in Estonia 0.7 percent of the cars on the roads here are electric cars. So in actuality, we are talking about a very small amount," Sillat said.

For 2023 alone, however, e-cars made up 6.3 percent of all new cars sold in Estonia (totaling 1,445 units).

Meelis Telliskivi said that the market mainly concerns higher-end cars, rather than vans or light trucks, though the selection available in this sector could become larger in future too.

The pan-European price tag target set by manufacturers is currently €25,000 or lower per vehicle, Telliskivi went on.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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