The future of electric cars in Ukraine is like this thought experiment called Schrödinger’s cat: it’s both alive and dead. The latter is confirmed not only by the realities of the electric car market but the whole automotive industry of the country as well.
Given the population’s low spending capacity that has also been sabotaged dramatically by the crisis of 2020, not every car enthusiast can buy an electric car in Ukraine. The price stays quite high. However, these two points of view do not contradict each other even in the slightest. E-cars will sooner or later capture the Ukrainian market almost completely. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen in the years ahead due to a combination of causes.
Electric Cars in Ukraine: on the Verge of Progress
The government keeps incentivizing the Ukrainians to switch over to the electric cars. The deputies of Verkhovna Rada have already declared their intent to transfer their citizens to e-cars until 2030. All they got to do is to reduce the cost of such vehicles and ease the installation of electric chargers that must be available virtually in every Ukrainian village as well as on any highways. But it’s no sooner said than done. Sure, there are certain victories in the mass adoption of electric cars. But at the same time, there is a whole range of external challenges.
Indeed, the sales of electric cars in Ukraine have risen. Moreover, the number of new e-cars almost doubles each year compared to the same index for the preceding period. As for the beginning of 2020, there were more than 27 000 eco-friendly electric cars registered in Ukraine. 7 000 vehicles were purchased in 2019, and 5 300 vehicles in 2018. It’s twice as much as 2017.
The Government Will Help Ya
Some car lovers appreciate the dynamic of such vehicles. Others are pleased with their saving abilities. Finally, someone just wants to be trendy and highlights their eco-style. On top of that, the sales and service of electric cars is a profitable business that has started its expansion for Ukraine.
The proportion of imported e-cars is still relatively low, getting close to 3.5%, while in the leading countries the number of electric and petrol cars is somewhat the same. However, by the projections of experts, in just 5 years there will be no less than 250 000 electric cars in Ukraine.
The main reason behind the increase in demand for electric cars is the possibility to cut down expenses. Moreover, this is not about fuel expenses, but resetting state fees for purchase and registration of such vehicles. With its government initiatives, Ukraine has already got into the top 10 European countries with increasing demand for electric cars, and it’s not over by a long shot.
For instance, the preferential terms of customs clearance will be in effect for one more year. Considering tough economic conditions and a few months swallowed by quarantine, word on the street was that preferential terms for legalization of e-cars might be prolonged.
The citizens of Ukraine can import eco-friendly vehicles peacefully without paying VAT, customs duties, and excise taxes. Only the pension fund (4.8%) stays inevitable, although there is a great chance it will be abolished soon.
In the meantime, the norms of switching to electric cars in Ukraine are recorded on the legislative level. Act No. 2532 assumes that by the end of December 2022, pension fund fees for registering an electric car in Ukraine will be abolished. It will take two years exactly to see such vehicles legally drive in bus lanes.
There’s more: the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is planning on developing a State program that entails insurance bonuses and preferential loans for e-cars. But wait, it’s not over yet. On the roadmap, there’s a development program for the Ukrainian electric car manufacturers as well as projects for the manufacturing and recycling of car batteries.
The Issue with Charge Stations
But these solutions aren’t the only thing stimulating the import of cars with electric motors into the country. Charge stations are still sorely lacking in Ukraine and might become a stumbling block as well. In 2014, their number was limited to 35 stations, but there is some progress, albeit very slow.
At the beginning of 2020, 2054 stations were already operating in the country. By the end of the year, their number is supposed to increase to 3000. Currently, there are about seven electric vehicles per station, which is quite comparable with the European numbers.
The problem is that the overwhelming majority of these chargers are slow AC stations with extremely low speeds. Also, infrastructure development between major cities is compromised by the lack of power grids on the highways and low demand from the owners of electric vehicles. In Ukraine, it is not uncommon for a family to have one electric car for short trips to work and around the city and another petrol car for longer journeys. But an electric car with a long-range (up to 300 kilometers or more) is still an expensive pleasure that only a few can afford.
However, Ukrainians know how to count money, both wealthy people and those who prefer budget-oriented vehicles. Building new charging stations is surely going to turn into a grueling bureaucratic adventure. Now it becomes obvious that the whole problem should be regulated by the government.
Products for Every Need and Budget
The market determines the price. In Ukraine, you can buy an electric car for almost any taste. When taking a market profile to see what brands of electric vehicles are popular in Ukraine, we can notice that the Nissan Leaf electric car is nowhere near being the main one in the country. Although usually it can be found even in the most remote village. The answer is simple: until recently, there were no official distributors of this brand. Everything you saw on highways was imported on the fringes of the law.
Now that the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is fighting for leadership on legal terms, it has to compete with the newest car on the market, the JAC iEV7S crossover. Then again, other popular car models in Ukraine are not making Nissan’s job easier. We are talking about Hyundai IONIQ Electric, Renault ZOE, KIA Soul EV, Renault Kangoo Z.E., and commercial vehicles like the BMW i3s, Jaguar I-Pace, and Tesla.
In Ukraine, you can even buy a kids’ electric car. It’s simply a matter of your budget. However, we have to conclude that many still prefer purchasing used cars as the cost of newer electric ones stays on a higher end. It’s not every customer who would venture to pay $20.000—40.000 for a vehicle. But the change is in the air, although the shift is hardly expectable any time soon.