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Poland’s E-mobility Program

Autolib' Bluecar carsharing service, Paris, France

Poland’s e-mobility program, announced by Development Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski in July envisages one million e-cars on Polish roads within 10 years.

In a country of 38 million, Poland wants to encourage cities to develop “green credentials” that it believes would in turn spur bus production to 1,000 a year by 2020, she said.

The next stage will be offering citizens subsidies and tax incentives to buy them, although Emilewicz didn’t name any Polish companies that would be involved in the push.

Zachary Shahan, an industry expert blogger based in Poland, says approximately 90 percent of parts for e-cars are already built in Poland (though the “10 percent” is the batteries, he added).

But salvation could take the shape of South Korea’s LG Chem, which said in April it plans to build an electric vehicle battery factory in Poland to meet rising demand from European auto makers. The new factory could make LG Chem the world’s largest supplier of batteries for plug-in vehicles.

Another push could come from e-car sharing projects.

Two Polish cities, Warsaw and Krakow, are each planning to launch 200-car electric car-sharing programs, while another startup is aiming to launch electric car-sharing in Poznan, Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Lodz and the tri-city area of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.

As well as electric car-sharing programs and electric car start-ups, EU funding has helped to get hundreds of EV charging stations installed in major Polish cities.

A regional environmental fund in Szczecin in north-west Poland on July 1 started to grant preferential loans for electric vehicle buyers. The interest rate on the loans is just 2 percent.

In contrast, the market of e-buses for city transport is enjoying much more favorable prospects. It’s relatively easier to roll out electric city buses given their smaller range, the possibility of charging at termini and the lower price compared with conventional buses.

The e-bus project is aimed at gradual electrification of the public bus transport in selected cities and is expected to stimulate growth in the electric bus market to PLN 2.5 billion annually ($585 million).

Solaris already makes several full electric buses in Poland. It hooked up with Indian JBM Group this year also to form a joint venture to develop and distribute vehicles with alternative engines, i.e. electric and hybrid buses, on the Indian market.

The first jointly-produced fully electric bus ‘Ecolife’ will be rolled out in 12 to 18 months. The vehicles, which are partly based on Solaris designs, will be manufactured at JBM’s production sites in India. The vehicle will be powered by lithium batteries and run 150-200 km in 10-15 hrs of city bus operation.

Polish cities have bought a total of 16 plug-in buses to date, while the country’s biggest manufacturer, Solaris, made 1,279 vehicles in 2015, both electric and traditional. Cities replace about 1,000 of them each year.

However, since the nation’s municipalities operate only about 11,000 buses, the government is banking on the public buying the bulk of vehicles to reach the 1 million target. Emilewicz said she hopes incentives, which would be based on those in Western Europe, will start in the current term of this parliament, which ends in 2019. -DW.Com

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