The EU announced that the €44.5m support scheme will contribute towards reducing carbon emissions without unduly distorting competition.
The six year national programme will help fund the construction of publicly accessible recharging and refuelling stations for vehicles running on electricity, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen.
The Commission says it granted the support as the Czech Republic demonstrated the aid was necessary to incentivise operators to develop the national network at the required pace and density.
The move is expected to encourage a major uptake in vehicles running on alternative fuels which will make a contribution towards significantly reducing carbon emissions and achieving Paris Agreement goals.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “The Czech scheme is yet another good example of how Member States can contribute to the fight against global warming. The scheme will promote alternative fuels and reduce harmful car emissions and will encourage consumers and businesses to use greener transportation…”
Czech Republic EV growth
The Czech market for electric vehicles (EVs) has been slow to take off, according to the Czech Republic’s electricity producer, ČEZ, which released a forecast by consultants Roland Berger of how the local electric and hybrid car market would evolve. It expected sales of 2,500 EVs and 4,700 hybrids by 2020. That would amount to 3.4% of total Czech vehicle sales. By 2025 that share of sales would rise to 11.9% and by 2040 23.7% of new Czech sales, or around 51,000 vehicles, would be EVs.
Some other Europe-wide forecasts see a much faster take-off of EVs with the turning point seen as early as 2024 when the price gap between traditional and EVs will become smaller, a much wider charging network for EVs will be developed and charging times drastically improved with a 300km charge possible in around 20 minutes. According to this scenario, EVs could already account for nearly all new cars sold by 2035 which could mean the end of an era for the internal combustion engine.
Tomáš Chmelík, head of ČEZ’s e-mobility programme, says the utility is largely focused on getting the infrastructure in place for the pending transport revolution. He admits though that the take off of EVs at this stage is slower than expected with the complexities of getting charging infrastructure in place.
He explains in a Radio interview at the beginning of August:“We believe that e-mobility is coming, that we will be facing tens of thousands of electric vehicles on the streets. If it happens in 2020 or 2022 is in the long-term point of view not that important or critical. We believe the cars will be coming and taking into account what is happening in Europe, what are the activities or plans of the manufacturers. We really believe that e-mobility is an issue and our activities concerning installation of charging infrastructure are based on that. We didn’t make our plans according to the prediction but rather in a longer term belief that e-mobility will become important.”
Car manufacturer acts
Meanwhile, in response to the support scheme announcement, Skoda is ramping up plans to launch four electric vehicles by 2021 and a further two by 2025, including two SUVs and a sports car.
First among Skoda’s EV plans will include the plug-in hybrid version of its Superb sedan in 2019, as well as an all-electric version of the small Citigo in the same year. Following this, 2020 will see the launch of Skoda's first next-generation EV built on Volkswagen Group’s (VW’s) new MEB architecture, a model which has been unveiled in concept form as the ‘Vision E’ coupé-SUV.