|Polskie Stowarzyszenie Paliw Alternatywnych
Poland has some of the strictest regulations on clean transport zones. Major European cities did not introduce such restrictions
The Act on Electromobility adopted in January doesn’t cover hybrid cars, which are increasingly popular on the Polish market. It also excludes plug-in hybrids, which allow switching the drive to electric, from accessing clean transport zones. No other country in Europe has ever introduced such strict regulations. Europe’s biggest cities such as Berlin and London initially allowed access to their clean zones for low-emission vehicles, and the criteria were gradually made more stringent.
“The Act on Electromobility and Alternative Fuels suggested the establishing of clean transport zones under some of the world’s strictest regulations. These areas can be accessed only by all-electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and natural gas vehicles (CNG). Plug-in hybrids, which can be switched to a zero emission mode, are not allowed. It’s a complete mystery why these vehicles are not allowed in the zones, contrary to the established practice all across Europe,“ Maciej Mazur, the Managing Director of the Polish Association of Alternative Fuels (PSPA) told the Newseria Biznes news agency.
Such restrictive regulations that would close the clean transport zones from PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) are not present in other European countries, which feature more than two hundred such special zones in total.
“This is actually one of the reasons for which major automotive companies created the category of plug-in hybrids – to make it possible to use the electric drive in the city, with the conventional engine available for longer journeys between agglomerations, where an electric vehicle would have insufficient range. The electric range of PHEVs is growing – currently this is about 30–50 km, but there are producers who declare that their cars can be equipped with batteries that last for as much as 150 km. This means that for daily use you can drive only using the electric engine, which is zero-emission. That is why they should be allowed in clean transport zones,” Maciej Mazur said.
In other European countries such strict regulations were introduced in stages, with transitional periods. The low-emission zones in Berlin and London are good examples. At first they allowed low-emission vehicles, and then the criteria were gradually tightened. London’s zone will be open exclusively to zero-emission cars starting next year.
“We must accept the reality we see on our roads – unfortunately, these aren’t zero-emission cars, but mainly high-emission ones. The zones should allow low emission: classic hybrids, plug-in hybrids and even cars complying with the EURO 4, 5 or 6 standards, and only after 10–15 years should they restrict access to include only electric cars,“ Maciej Mazur said.
The Managing Director of PSPA added that the Act on Electromobility completely omits hybrid cars, which are the most popular on the Polish market. Hybrids combine two drives – electric and conventional. This makes it possible to extend the car's range, and the main issue on the electromobility market is the limited distance that can be travelled before recharging the battery.
“Automobile manufacturers first introduced classic hybrids and then plug-in hybrids which can be charged by plugging in to an external source. They respond to the limited range problem, which remains one of the biggest barriers to the development of electromobility. However, this is already beginning to change, as more and more car manufacturers are declaring that in the coming months they will be introducing cars able to drive 300-400 km on a single charge. This will make their range comparable to that of conventional engine cars. “This must be achieved in stages and hybrids are an important step on the way to zero-emission vehicles,” Maciej Mazur said.
The Act on Electromobility and Alternative Fuels provides for excise tax and parking fee exemptions for those who purchase all-electric and hydrogen vehicles. They will also be allowed to use the privileged bus lanes.
Business owners will take advantage of higher depreciation write-offs. By the end of 2020 Poland will build a network of 6,400 recharging stations (400,000 fast chargers and 6 thousand standard chargers). Currently, the share of all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the Polish market is negligible and is about 0.1 percent. In 2017 nearly one thousand electric cars were registered.
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