Serbia records neither incentives nor necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles. Private sector’s initiatives could be a game-changer.
Number of charging stations on the rise in Southeastern Europe
The Faculty of mechanical engineering in Belgrade has presented this week a supercharger for electric cars as part of European project Green Balkanika. The project should provide necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles along 2.000-kilometers-long route, from Munich, via Salzburg, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Skopje, Podgorica, Tirana to Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar all the way to Kopar, Slovenia.
Green Balkanika is a project of Slovenian company Hidria. Its CEO Iztok Seljak announced in 2016 in an interview for Balkan Green Energy News that they are planning to equip entire road from Munich to Istanbul with charging stations.
Marko Femc from Plan-net company said that with network of supercharging stations in place, the cost of 530-kilometer long travel from Ljubljana to Belgrade (530 km) would cost just EUR 9,6.
Only day after the event in Belgrade, Tesla company announced the plan to build its “Supercharger” electric vehicles charging stations in six countries of Southeastern Europe (SEE): three stations in Serbia and Romania each, while Bulgaria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, FYR Macedonia and Moldova will get one station each.
Croatia will add four new ones to its existing two, while Slovenia already has three Tesla’s supercharger stations. Tesla has 5.400 supercharger stations all over the world, and they plan to double that number globally.
State must help with incentives and infrastructure, experts say
It is obvious that electric vehicles need infrastructure, which mostly comes down to places where they can charge their batteries. Unless the state invests into that, electric vehicles can be used only by people who own garage with electric port.
Olivera Đorđević from Automobile and Motorcycle Association of Serbia (AMSS) warned that charging stations are not even allowed to sell electricity if the market is not liberalized, which is a problem in many countries, not just Serbia.
On the margins of EVIM Belgrade Meet up 2017 Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Meeting (part of RENEXPO Water & Energy Forum 2017 in Belgrade) Đorđević said that developed countries provide subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles, amount ranging from EUR 3,000 and EUR 15,000 per vehicle.
Current state of play and development perspective in Southeastern Europe
Đorđević thinks that everybody should be cautious not to repeat the Croatia’s scenario, where importers of electric vehicles raised their prices after they got government subsidies, which annulled the effect of that measure.
In order to break the standstill, the state administration should start using electric vehicles, Đorđević said and added that the move would reduce fuel cost, and the savings could be used for construction of charging stations, thus creating the core of future infrastructure.
Đorđević mentioned Slovenia as a good example from the region, where the government opened free-of-charge charging stations, but it also introduced car-sharing model for electric vehicles used by the state administration, the project which is realized with Avant Car company. In Croatia, national energy company Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) already installed 30 charging stations.
Belgrade, Serbia: plan to increase the number of electric vehicles
Belgrade public transportation company (GSP) as five electric buses operating in city’s public transport system since September 2016.
Željko Milković, CEO of GSP, said for Balkan Green Energy News that electric buses have been performing well so far, but it is too early to tell more details because exploitation period is too short.
Those vehicles are using high-capacity condensators – 6 to 8 minutes charging is enough to provide 22 kilometers-long ride, while the costs are seven times lower than with diesel fueled buses. In the future, their number is expected to be multiplied. Željko Milković mentioned that Belgrade’s mayor Siniša Mali, during his visit to China, announced that the city will buy 80 electric buses for its public transport.
There are also other hints that private sector could help the state to kick-start the encouragement of production, import, purchase and use of electric vehicles.
Chinese company Yinlong expressed interest to take over Ikarbus bus & truck production company and invest EUR 30 million. In perspective, Yinlong intends to open new line for the production of electric buses. Their representatives said that Belgrade would be ideal for introducing electric buses because it already has trolleybus network which can be quickly adapted for their needs.
Yinlong says that they have Serbian state’s support for their plans, but the negotiations on the purchase of Ikarbus are in standstill because of the company’s debts to commercial banks.