Cyprus is not only failing to reduce CO2 emissions; it tops the EU list for the highest use of petrol-powered cars at 84% with electric vehicles nowhere to be seen in the transport mix.
While Cyprus is king of petrol-guzzling cars, when it comes to alternative fuels, just 1% of vehicles run on alternative fuel such as electricity, natural gas and biofuels.
With Cyprus desperate to cut down on its CO2 emissions, having failed to meet its EU 2020 targets, the country is concentrating on reducing emissions as much as it can to avoid paying hefty fines or resort to the emissions exchange to buy the right to pollute.
According to estimates made by the Cyprus Greens, the Cypriot taxpayer will be burdened with a minimum of EUR 40 mln a year.
Although one of the obvious measures would be to encourage the use of cars running on cleaner energy, Cyprus has failed to introduce credible incentive packages for people to ditch their old petrol-fuelled cars.
While there is no shortage of new electric cars available, Cyprus appears to be an unwelcome market for them.
A motor journalist told the Financial Mirror, that the government’s inaction has fed into misconceptions about electric cars, turning people off from even considering buying one.
Petros Soudjis, a columnist for Autokinito.com, said there are good electric cars available in showrooms while consumers have access to a range of cars which they can order through dealers.
However, the high purchase costs are putting consumers off the idea.
“Nissan’s Leaf, BMW’s I3 and the Jaguar I-Pace, are already in showrooms, while consumers have access to Peugeot’s IV3, Renault’s Cloe and Corsa’s Electric, Hyundai’s Kona, with a tsunami of new models expected to flood international markets,” said Soudjis.
He said Cypriot consumers are not expected to be rushing out to buy one as these cars are relatively expensive to buy.
The new Nissan Leaf costs around EUR 30,000, while the Nissan Micra — the equivalent-sized car with a petrol engine — costs just shy of EUR 14,000.
Surveys have shown, even with an average EUR 6,000 subsidy given in the EU, lower-income groups are not going for electric cars as purchase costs are still high, said Soudjis.
“With costs starting at EUR 30,000, and almost non-existent state incentives, consumers in Cyprus are definitely in a tight spot and cannot afford such a car”.
There are no incentives for scrapping older cars to replace them with new electric ones.
As Soudjis explained, the overall cost of owning an electric car is significantly lower than owning one with a conventional combustion engine, as running and fuel costs could be brought down to almost zero.
It is estimated that lifetime servicing costs for an electric Renault Zoe will be half that of a Clio — the equivalent model with a petrol engine — while fuel bills are almost non-existent if charging at home.
Soudjis said electric cars’ engines have almost one-tenth of the moving parts of the internal combustion engines, which do not need frequent maintenance.
He added that consumers in Cyprus will be faced with serious problems, as EU directives and the course global climate policies are taking, buying an electric car will be their only option, but they will not be able to afford one.
Soudjis argues the lack of incentives has kept Cypriots away, giving way to misconceptions surrounding electric cars.
“People worry that they will not be able to get about in Cyprus with an electric car. Far from it. To begin with distances in Cyprus are not that big, and secondly, the latest models carry batteries that have a range of 300-500 km.”
Some 90% of all journeys take place within the towns, so having an electric car with a range of even 200 km is more than enough for Cyprus.
Soudjis said these cars no longer have the drawback of earlier models which needed hours to recharge as owners had to wait for the battery to empty and then recharge it to its full capacity.
Some newer models can be recharged up to 80% within just 30 minutes.
Another issue hampering the development of an electric car market in Cyprus is the lack of charging stations.
An Electricity Authority of Cyprus official told the Financial Mirror that the EAC is currently preparing to almost double the number of charging points.
“Currently there are 19 charging points which can accommodate two cars at the same time, while we are preparing to set up another 16,” said an EAC official.
Cyprus Green MP Charalampos Theopemptou said the government has done nothing concerning charging points, despite conventional obligations towards the EU.
Theopemptou said charging points were set up after initiatives taken by municipalities, which participate in EU-funded programmes, and the EAC.
“The state is obliged to install charging point in all government buildings, while having the obligation to introduce legislation that will see developers who apply for permits to build new buildings, taking on the responsibility to install a charging point.”
He argued that the state is doing too little too late, referring to the latest efforts by the Transport Ministry concerning an incentive package to promote cleaner cars.
Theopemptou noted that just like previous schemes brought before the House, it fails to address the issue of pollutant emissions.
“Instead of looking for ways to encourage the use of cleaner cars, the state is giving incentives to consumers to continue buying conventional cars, either with dropping the consumer tax on fuels or by reducing taxes on all cars.”
According to Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastassiadou, the Department of Road Transport is preparing the framework of an incentive scheme to get older, polluting cars off the road.
Reportedly the plan is to be similar to the last car withdrawal incentive scheme in 2010 when the state-subsidised beneficiaries with a cash amount up to EUR 1,800.
Anastassiadou is in consultation with the Finance Minister to get funds for the scheme so it can be implemented next year.
The government is also looking into a scheme which will support electric car owners setting up a charging facility in their homes.
The plan will cover 30% of the cost of installation of a photovoltaic system used for the production of energy needed for recharging electric vehicles.
Ministries are also examining ways of enhancing infrastructure necessary for recharging electric cars with the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Services drawing up a plan for the creation of 10 new charging points across the island.