As of early 2021, Russia had only about 10K electric vehicles in use and some 1K EV charging stations — an extremely small amount, particularly given that there are currently over 7 mio electric cars as well as 800K stations worldwide. Let us consider efforts that could positively affect the development of the domestic EV market.
Today, 80% of cars powered by electric motors for sale are ‘one-box’ hatchbacks or sedans with relatively little road clearance and a single-axis drive, while most passenger vehicles whose price is over RUR 1 mio ($13.2K) in the Russian market are SUVs. So we can definitely expect a demand in mid-price segment cars — preferably four-wheeled and with higher ground clearance — in case their official sales start.
We are observing an increasing number of such models produced in Germany, France, Sweden, South Korea, China and many other countries, with pretty much every top car manufacturer presenting excellent electric SUVs in various price segments last and this year; we only have to wait for their introduction in the domestic market.
There are as few as 500 EV public charging stations in Russia (according to other sources, the number is nearly 1,000), with most of them installed but non-operational or providing electric energy for free — and not to benefit the environmental cause but due to an actual lack of a proper tool that would allow for collecting fee from citizens, who got used to free charging services. Plus, the work to choose, purchase and install an EV charging station — as well as to coordinate the process — is very effort-consuming. With most of us living in cities with predominantly high-rise residential buildings, there is no space to install a charging station. Yet, it should be noted that in some Russian regions authorities have started receiving requests from residents for setting up charging points, and they initiate these efforts themselves as well.
Another positive thing to mention is zero import duty on eclectic cars in effect in Russia until the end of this year. In addition, EV users are exempt from vehicle tax in certain regions of the country; in Moscow, they are also provided with free parking service. And to put a cherry on top: certain regions still offer free charging infrastructure.
Some believe that even in case the existing EV charging services become paid, companies to install such equipment will still choose to provide them for free to increase customer loyalty and attract new clients.
Today, new cars are normally purchased in Europe under various two- or three-year loan and leasing programs, with a standard car warranty in effect for about the same period of time. With an increasing number of electric cars in use in Western Europe and the United States, we can expect such vehicles to appear in the Russian market in a couple of years, which will allow our citizens to give them a try.
An additional option for the development of Russia’s EV market suggests introducing a new format of small urban passenger cars, which has already broken the production record in China during the period.
Another alternative that could prompt Russian citizens to acknowledge the EV format involves efforts to develop commercial electric transport, with pilot projects of commercial testing of delivery services underway.
In any case, I personally expect a threefold increase in the EV fleet as early as in late 2021 as compared to the year’s beginning, with over 150K cars to be in use in a couple of years — or even earlier if either scheme as regards commercial transport or micro EVs is successfully implemented.
Electric cars are just around the corner — soon, they will become an essential part of our everyday lives, with cleaner cities and air.
By Dmitry Matviyevsky, Director General, IT Charge