The interest in electric vehicles is gathering pace, in no small part due to the unpredictable price of oil and the ever increasing concern over greenhouse emissions which is causing many auto makers to increasing investment in more environmentally friendly vehicles.
While Japan and China recently helped push the number of electric cars on the road over the one million mark, there seems to be a new and unexpected player in the field, Russia. In a surprise move, the Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, signed an order in August which states that by November 1 next year, all gas stations in the country will have to be equipped with charging stations for electric vehicles.
The move is part of Medvedev’s “green initiative”, which aims to stimulate the market for electric cars in Russia. However, given that the total number of electric vehicles on the road in Russia barely reaches 500, it seems a bold but rather odd move.
Climate and Price Concerns
The take up of electric cars in Russia is low despite the fact that the first electronic vehicle was introduced to the country by Mitsubishi in 2011. The high price and cold weather have deterred interest from much of the population. Also, as there are no factories producing electronic cars in Russia, each one has to be imported, increasing the cost significantly.
Furthermore, cars which normally have a range of at least a couple of hundred kilometers, when fully charged, can only manage up to 80 kilometers when driven in Russia’s cold climate. This is due to the need to constantly heat the car which drains the battery much more quickly.
In the end, it is clear that to really jump start the market in Russia, the government will have to tackle more than just the issue of charging stations. While they might be a good first step, until the prices go down and there is a better network of service centers for maintenance, the results of this initiative may not be what the Prime Minister is hoping for.