Government pushing for agreement with car makers which would boost sales of electric cars

Illustrative photo: Jan Rosenauer

Following a promo campaign in its Holešovice showroom the biggest Czech e-shop has just launched the sale of electric cars. The company says it firmly believes that the Czech Republic will soon follow the example of Germany, Austria and Norway in gradually increasing the number of electric cars on its roads.

Illustrative photo: Jan Rosenauer
At present potential buyers are put off by the high price of electric cars, their relatively short battery life, amounting to around 400 km, and the lack of a reliable charging station network around the country. However plans are in the pipeline to address these problems. The car maker Skoda Auto and the power giant ČEZ plan to work together to develop electric cars and infrastructure, with Skoda saying it will put its first purely electric car on the market in 2020 and offer clients five electric models by 2025. By that time, the company says, electric cars should make up 20 to 25 percent of overall sales. CEZ will deliver compatible charging stations.

The stumbling block at present is the failure of the government and car makers to agree on significant subsidies which would boost the sales of electric cars. Norway, where electric cars now make up a third of all cars sold on the market, boosted sales by significantly cutting road tax for the owners of electric-powered vehicles. The importance of subsidies is obvious in the case of Denmark, which restricted them within broad austerity measures two years ago and immediately registered a 60 percent drop in the sale of electric vehicles. In Germany potential buyers can save up to four thousand euros, half of which is covered by the state and half by car makers. Austria recently approved a similar measure. In the Czech Republic an agreement has yet to be reached, but car makers say they are not against supporting such a scheme in principle. Increased production of electric cars is on the cards not least because of increasingly strict emission limits.

The Czech Industry Ministry is already subsidizing the purchase of electric cars for firms, government offices and municipalities. However this is a mere drop in the ocean that reportedly supported the purchase of 190 electric cars last year. Altogether 260 thousand passenger cars were sold in the Czech Republic last year of which only 270 were electric powered. Altogether there are 1,200 of them registered in the country and they have to rely on a network of 70 charging stations. Environment Minister Richard Brabec says that he hopes to see tens of thousands of them on Czech roads within five years’ time and gradually millions.