Alternative fuel cars gain in popularity among Czech motorists

Photo: Jan Rosenauer

More and more Czech motorists are turning to alternative fuel vehicles, from plug-in electric cars to hybrids to compressed natural gas. Over the last two years alone, an additional 500 electric cars have joined regular traffic in the Czech Republic, bringing the total use of electric cars in the country to around 1,000.

Photo: Jan Rosenauer
Alternative fuel vehicles, more environmentally-friendly than petrol or diesel cars, are still the minority by far on Czech roads. But the picture is slowly changing; within 10 years, as part of the government’s action plan, there could be far more: up to 95,000 driven regularly on the country’s throughways. Currently, there are only 1,000 electric vehicles but the number double in two years, so a sharp spike. Ondřej Hunčovský, a driver by profession, told Czech TV why he had opted for an electric car.

“Expenses come to a bare minimum, compared to a normal fossil-fuel car. We are talking about a quarter or one-third of what you would normally pay, depending on your electricity costs.”

Electric or hybrid car on average remain considerably more expensive, around 700,000 crowns, roughly double the cost of a gas or diesel powered entry to mid-range vehicle. The benefits are that electronic cars or hybrids are quiet and also easy to charge. According to the broadcaster Czech TV, there are currently 100 charge-up stations in the Czech Republic and they are free, at least for the time being. Ten of those can reportedly charge a vehicle in around 20 minutes. Long-term savings are the reason why 40 new electric vehicles roll onto Czech streets each month; 100 kilometres travelled cost owners less than 100 crowns.

Not only more car drivers but also some bus operators have opted for electric, for example, in Prague. The cost is still relatively high – nine million for an electric bus compared to five million for diesel. An electric bus can travel 140 – 160 kilometres on a single charge.

Some drivers but primarily companies for the time being are also opting for CNG – compressed natural gas – as a cost-saving alternative. Czech TV calculated that a single trip between Prague and Plzeň, a distance of 92 kilometres, coming to 215 crowns using gas or diesel, costs 70 crowns less with compressed natural gas.