At the end of September, 20,323 passenger battery electric vehicles were registered in the Czech Republic. This follows from the latest data from the Clean Transport website. In nine months, the number of cars in the outlet increased by 45 percent, when the authorities registered 6,268 vehicles.
Although this may look like a respectable trend, compared to the European Union it is still below average. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), more than 1.1 million new battery-powered passenger cars were registered in EU countries from January to September, which represents a year-on-year increase of 55 percent. These vehicles held the largest market share in Sweden (39 percent), Finland and Denmark (both countries 33 percent). The Czech Republic finished in the share of registrations of new personal battery electric vehicles among the countries of the European Union with 2.8 percent, ahead of Slovakia in the penultimate place.
“It’s a really shameful situation,” said Martin Peleška, CEO of Toyota Central – Czech at the recent Forum elektromobilita conference, who also recalled that the average age of cars in the Czech Republic is about 16 years, which is almost four years more than the average in the European Union.
At the same time, Toyota is one of the biggest drivers of alternative fuels in transport. In addition to plug-in hybrids, it also offers gas-powered vehicles. In the summer, Toyota’s Czech branch joined an initiative that called on the government to support hydrogen technology more and faster.
Like a red rag
The majority of Czechs certainly do not share the opinion of the shameful second-to-last place in electromobility. It’s the exact opposite. After 2035, when new cars with combustion engines are to stop being sold on the basis of a European regulation, two-thirds of Czechs plan to still drive on gasoline or diesel.
This was shown by a survey by the Ipsos agency for Raiffeisen-Leasing, according to which 65 percent of drivers want to stay with traditional fuels as long as possible. A third of drivers are determined to buy a new petrol or diesel car just before 2035, another third are ready to buy a used car with an internal combustion engine after 2035. 13 percent of people plan to let their current car reach the end of its useful life and then replace it with an electric car. 18 percent of people are considering switching to an electric car straight away.
Nikola Hořejš, director of research on international issues at the STEM agency, said at a conference on electromobility that plug-in cars can become a kind of red rag, slapstick or scarecrow against Europe’s green direction – the Green Deal. “There is a hidden explosive here,” pointed out Hořejš, whose contribution at the conference had the telling title “Devil’s invention: Why Czechs are afraid of electromobility and the future”.
According to Hořejš, a large group of Czech drivers may have a problem if they cannot exchange their fifteen-year-old car with an internal combustion engine for the same type of vehicle. After all, according to the comprehensive survey “Czech (non)transformation 2022”, prepared by STEM and the 2050 Institute, a total of 35 percent of Czechs definitely do not agree with the end of the production of cars with internal combustion engines in 2035. Rather, 24 percent of people disagree.
“The end of the production of cars with internal combustion engines according to the EU plan in 2035 is a very sensitive, difficult topic for the Czechs,” stated the authors of the survey, according to which two fifths of the population (39 percent) would react angrily to restrictions on the production of cars with internal combustion engines.
The already mentioned Martin Peleška from the management of the Czech branch of Toyota noted that the Czech Republic started the introduction of ecological car drives very late and badly. “We started with the fact that it is a dictate from Brussels. And we still haven’t gotten out of this position,” stated Peleška.
Where will public opinion turn
But that doesn’t mean that motorists won’t eventually get used to electric cars and other alternative fuels. Hořejš compared it to when the ban on smoking in restaurants and pubs was introduced more than six years ago, which caused a great storm of resentment. Today, only a small minority of the public would like the return of ashtrays and cigarettes.
Nikola Hořejš stated that personal experience is very important for many Czechs. So it is necessary that electromobility is not just a kind of symbol, but that domestic motorists can also see it in practice. “It can become something that the Czechs will be very happy to accept in the end,” said Peleška.
According to the aforementioned “Czech (non)transformation 2022” survey, about a third of respondents agree that the state should contribute financially to companies and households to purchase an electric car. The construction of the necessary infrastructure, i.e. charging stations in particular, has similar support.
According to Hořejš, the decision is currently being made as to whether Czech motorists will finally give electric cars and other eco-friendly fuels a chance, or whether most of them will stick to their negative position. “We are now at a crossroads. Now public opinion can turn in both directions,” added Hořejš.
Illustration photo: Unsplash