Bulgaria Still Lags Behind the Rest of EU in Electric Mobility but Progress Is Fast

Bulgaria Still Lags Behind the Rest of EU in Electric Mobility but Progress Is Fast

Sofia, February 5 (Konstantin Karagyozov of BTA) - Тhe share of electric vehicles (EVs) in Bulgaria has been rapidly growing in recent years but it started from a very low base and the country still lags behind most European countries in electric mobility. At the end of September 2021, there were some 18,000 electric cars in Bulgaria, which amounts to 0.67 per cent of all cars in the country, the Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster (EVIC) reported in January.

Low incomes is one of the main deterrents to purchasing an EV in Bulgaria, EVIC said a while back. Another is the absence of charging infrastructure. This is a vicious circle - there are very few new EVs because the infrastructure is inadequate and the infrastructure is less developed than elsewhere in Europe due to the small number of EVs in the country, the EVIC noted.

Unlike many other EU countries, EV purchases are not yet subsidized in Bulgaria. In January, the Deputy Prime Minister for Climate Policy and Environment Minister, Borislav Sandov, told BTA that every car owner who gives up their old car and buys a new EV will be entitled to a subsidy of 6,200 euro under the EU-backed Operational Programme Environment during its next programming period (2021-2027). In addition to that, Bulgaria's National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisages a reform for replacing old vehicles with electric ones, he also said.

In the last 9 months the number of electric cars in Bulgaria has increased dramatically, by 50 per cent, and sales are projected to grow even more. Estimates show that in the third quarter of 2021, a total of 96 new electric cars were registered in the country, compared to only 26 during the same period in 2020.

In the first nine months of 2021, the new EV registrations totalled 219 which was a significant increase from only 79 during the same period of 2020.

Meanwhile, the EV market share in Europe has increased by 9.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2021. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have increased by 9.1 per cent and sales of conventional hybrid vehicles have increased by 20.7 per cent, EVIC reported.

The largest share of EVs is concentrated in a few Nordic countries and EU members in the West. Some 60 per cent of all registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are in Germany, France, and United Kingdom and their number has tripled since 2019. PHEV sales are the highest in Sweden (23 per cent), Norway and Iceland (20 per cent each), EVIC added.

Despite the increasing number of EVs across the world in recent years, the EV market remains relatively small and depends on the national policies of individual countries.

Minister: 20,000 EVs and 10,000 Charging Stations in Bulgaria Five Years from Now

During a webinar on electric mobility in early February, Environment Minister Borislav Sandov said that Bulgaria will have 20,000 EVs and 10,000 charging stations by 2026, and 50,000 old vehicles with internal combustion engines, will go out of use.

"If we look back, this might seem like an overly ambitious plan for a period of five years. But seeing how fast things move around us, in the EU and even in some neighbouring countries, which are not part of the EU, it is totally realistic. Some people might even find it not sufficiently ambitious," said Sandov.

He said that OP Environment 2021-2027, which will have funding for subsidized purchase of EVs, is at the stage of final drafting and will be sent in to Brussels for approval. Even now municipalities can apply for funding from OP Environment for purchase of electric buses or trucks for the municipal services. KK/

Source: Sofia