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09.08.2012
Galvanized: Sofia Vows for Electric Mobility Plan
Helped by Full Charger’s expertise and willingness to develop a charging network for EV’s, Bulgaria seems to make some actual steps towards more gasoline-free transport
AUTHOR: Lyudmila Zlateva
Today Bulgaria’s capital got its eight charging station for electric vehicles. Quite a surprising number, as the presence of the 7 current ones seems to be very elusive to both citizens and media.
 
Various assumptions about the actual number of EV’s cruising the peak-hour clogged streets of Sofia, ranging from 20 to some 1000 for the entire country, could be heard from all sides. Meanwhile the ceremony started with mayor Yordanka Fandakova, economy minister Delian Dobrev, Ivan Kostov (not to be mistaken with ex-prime minister) from the Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster and Vesela Sharankova and Marc Buker from Full Charger side by side.
 
It seems that the government is eager to be in the front rows of the electric vehicle span in Bulgaria, thus the new charging station being hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism. And it seems that Full Charger’s Bulgarian branch is looking for the support of the state for developing an EV charging network, Marc Buker, CEO of the French-based company, told Publics.bg.
 
“We are looking at developing an actual network of charging devices in Sofia and in the near future across Bulgaria. Of course, the number of EV’s is very small at present, but even in more advanced countries such as France and Germany it is often the case of charging stations exceeding the number of EV’s”, Mr. Buker said.
 
Mostly aimed at private EV’s, Full Chargers initiative also keeps in mind the corporate fleets that tend to be partly converted to electricity. In some countries companies get tax exemptions as big as 25% for harbouring EV’s in their fleet, which should be also a priority for the Bulgarian business, Mr. Buker pointed out.
 
Remembering the raw with Paris taxi drivers that Full Charger’s rent-an-EV programme had, he added that the new transportation mode should be introduced gradually. Turning to Sofia’s small but growing EV taxi niche, Mr. Buker added that this business was also among the ones that would benefit the most from having a reliable charging network across the city.
 
The price of a typical charging station varies between EUR 4,000 – 10,000 and having a network does seem a realistic goal, given that more people could afford an EV. This would be another goal of Full Charger and the Bulgarian Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster which entered into its 3rd year. Its members range from tech and communications companies such as Johnson Controls and BTC to energy utilities EVN Bulgaria and CEZ Bulgaria and scientific organizations like the Bulgarian Academy of Science.
 
The obvious public and private interest in promoting EV’s should be enough to push further some stimuli for the ones willing to join the electric car bandwagon, starting with the creation of a coordinating council on electric mobility within the Bulgarian economy ministry. This would be followed by respective changes in the legal framework of the country, offering tax and registration fees exemptions to EV owners. Further investments in the charging infrastructure and the right to park free in the city center and use the bus lanes would be some of the finishing touches of the EV programme, announced by economy minister Delian Dobrev. This of course would be accompained by more sustainable moves such as enriching the public transport fleet with more modern trolleybuses and expanding the metro system.
 
Hybrid cars are not such a rare view in the streets of Sofia anymore. The prognosis of the EV cluster says that by the mid 2020’s the electric cars would account for half of the newly registered vehicles in Europe. Nevertheless the saying “getting ahead of the game” is not realistic for Bulgaria. Getting into the game, however, is definitely a good idea.



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