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E-mobility on the move, but govt. lags

Key takeaways from the “Polish EV Outlook Index,” published by the PSPA, IBRM Samar and OTOMOTO.

The electromobility market is growing, though with more determination and support for sustainable transportation by the government, BEV sales in Poland would have exceeded 45,000 last year, the PSPA estimates. 20,000 new all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles were registered on the Polish market in 2023. 1,500 publicly available charging points also started.

In its summary of 2023, the PSPA also points to legislative inactivity and the lack of instruments to support the transformation of the Polish automotive industry towards products and services for new mobility. Their implementation should be a priority for the current government, not only for the sake of lowering emissions from the sector, but primarily for the sake of Poland’s economic development.

Electric vehicle market

Based on the “Polish EV Outlook Index,” published by the PSPA, IBRM Samar and OTOMOTO, a total of 56,934 all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles were registered in Poland as of the end of December 2023. Thus, the BEV fleet in Poland grew by 70% last year, and since the end of 2021 more than threefold. In 2023, 19,612 new all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles were registered in Poland (more than half as many as in 2022). The share of BEVs in the Polish market increased from 2.7% in 2022 to 3.6% in 2023.

“Despite the increases, the share of all-electric cars on the Polish market is still more than fourfold lower than the EU average. We are not in last place in the EU, as weaker results were recorded in three member states (Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), but we are a very long way from the CEE leaders. Suffice it to say that the share of BEVs in Romania is almost 11% and in Slovenia almost 9%. In both of these countries, the support system for buyers of passenger electric vehicles is more effective than in Poland (in Romania, the maximum subsidy can be as high as PLN 50,000), and above all – it was introduced much earlier,” says Jan Wiśniewski, Director of the PSPA Research and Analysis Center.

The PSPA argues that the public administration has not sufficiently supported zero-emission transportation in recent years. Meanwhile, thanks to relatively limited legal changes and after allocating relatively small funds to subsidize the e-mobility market, the annual number of new electric car registrations in Poland could exceed 45,000 in 2023, a similar level to BEV sales in, for example, Austria or Portugal. Such a result was forecast by PSPA in the “Polish EV Outlook” in early 2022, in one of the scenarios that included the introduction of additional support instruments.

“It should be noted that a draft dedicated subsidy program for zero-emission trucks has been announced in 2024, but this is in consultation for now. Subsidies for used electric cars are missing. Announcements regarding the implementation of subsidies for private charging stations have also not been fulfilled. The development of non-general-purpose infrastructure is also limited by imperfect laws, which in addition are very often misinterpreted by managers of multi-family buildings. These are just some of the barriers to market development that have been in place in Poland for many years. The public administration is aware of them, and yet steps have still not been taken to change the situation,” says Aleksander Rajch, PSPA Board Member.

Charging infrastructure

According to PSPA data, 2023 closed with 5,933 publicly available points (3,282 stations) in total operating in Poland. This means that the Polish infrastructure network is now 37% larger than at the end of 2022 and 106% larger than at the end of 2021. In December 2023, 26% of the total number of points were direct current (DC) fast chargers, while 74% were alternating current (AC). At the end of 2022, this ratio was 23% (DC) to 77% (AC). In 2023, 1,513 new charging points were installed. This is the highest ever, but in previous years the results were only slightly lower. By comparison, the number of newly launched points in the whole of 2022 was 1,310, while in 2021 it was 1,211. Electric car drivers in Poland have more and more fast DC points at their disposal. In 2023, the number of such points increased by 528 (+92% y/y). In the AC segment, 985 new points were launched, a slight decrease (-5% y/y).

“It should be clear that infrastructure development has not kept pace with the vehicle market. A clear trend on the upside in the public charging infrastructure sector is the installation of chargers with increasingly higher power output. At the end of 2023, ultra-high-speed (at least 150 kW) charging stations were in 88 locations nationwide. A year earlier, the number of such locations was more than four times lower at 20. Such a significant increase is due to operators making new investments and modernizing their networks. Unfortunately, the actions – or rather, the omissions – of the public administration to date do not facilitate this task. The commissioning time for DC charging hubs is often estimated to be even more than three years. In no European country does it take that long. Over the past year nothing has changed in practice in this regard,” says Jan Wisniewski, Director of the PSPA Research and Analysis Center.

The realization of infrastructure investments in the e-mobility industry is still greatly hampered by protracted procedures for connecting charging stations to the network of distribution system operators (involving, among other things, a very long waiting time for the construction of a connection), unfavorable connection conditions, or the lack of preparation next to highways and expressways of energy infrastructure that would be able to provide adequate power for the planned expansion of publicly available charging infrastructure.

A law for electromobility

The pace of implementation of legal instruments supporting the development of zero-emission transportation is not slowing down and is driven mainly by European Union regulations. Potentially groundbreaking pieces of legislation came into force in 2023, such as the revised Regulation 2019/631 (meaning a ban in the EU on the registration of new cars and vans with internal combustion engines from 2035), the aforementioned AFIR regulation (imposing very ambitious direct binding requirements on all member states in the area of charging infrastructure) and the RED III directive, providing, among other things, for the implementation of targets for a minimum share of RES in final energy consumption in the transport sector by 2030.

“In contrast, very little has changed in Polish law shaping the new mobility market in 2023. We can consider the most important change in national regulations as allowing municipalities to verify vehicles entering clean transportation zones with automatic license plate recognition devices, particularly cameras. At the local level, it is worth noting the resolution of the City of Warsaw to establish such a zone. The low-emission zone will become effective in the capital as early as July this year,” says Albert Kania, Senior New Mobility Manager at the PSPA.

Industry and economy

The automotive sector accounts for 8% of Poland’s GDP and creates almost 400,000 jobs. The automotive industry in Europe, however, is facing the biggest transformation in its history due to the EU’s climate targets, including a ban on the sale of new combustion cars, which will take effect in less than 14 years. As a result, many Polish companies supplying components for gasoline and diesel vehicles will have to diversify their offerings or disappear from the market. In many member states, instruments have been implemented to support the industry’s transformation towards solutions and services for new mobility, and very ambitious strategic goals have been set (in France, among others) in the area of zero-emission vehicle production. As the PSPA points out, in Poland, the public administration’s support measures have been far from sufficient in recent years, and this situation will not change in 2023 either.

“In the past year, we have already seen examples of production cutbacks or even closure of vehicle and component plants. It is enough to mention Volvo’s factories in Wroclaw, Scania in Sanok or FCA in Tychy. In order to stop this trend, it is first necessary for the government to set a timetable for taking measures to maintain at least the current level of employment and the automotive industry’s share of Poland’s GDP. There is also a need for a plan to implement instruments that will enable Poland to decisively increase its technological and production potential in the area of new mobility. This is a huge opportunity for the domestic automotive industry – investments in this market in the next few years will be counted in billions of euros. The potential in this area is confirmed in particular by the battery sector, in which Poland today holds the leading position in Europe and the fifth in the world,” says Rajch.

Based on PSPA forecasts, the share of all-electric cars in the Polish new passenger vehicle market in 2024 could be about 7-8%. This would mean about a threefold increase relative to the end of 2022. The expansion of publicly available charging infrastructure is also expected to accelerate in 2024. The number of newly installed points may exceed 3,000. The PSPA will present later in the first quarter its current forecasts for the development of the electromobility market in Poland in the latest full version of the “Polish EV Outlook” report.

“Demand and public awareness of sustainable transportation are growing all the time. Adequate levels of supply have also been secured and the range of electric cars is becoming increasingly attractive (it already includes about 150 models). Infrastructure operators are also planning new investments. However, business development conditions in the e-mobility field are still far from optimal. The growth rate of the sector in the coming months therefore depends primarily on the actions of the Polish public administration. The industry has already prepared an appropriate set of demands. On the initiative of PSPA, a ‘White Paper on New Mobility’ was created, which contains more than 120 proposals for legislative changes in 12 key areas. More than 250 players from across the sustainable transportation value chain worked on them. “We have already submitted the ‘White Paper’ to government representatives, and we hope that our demands will be taken into account as soon as possible. Otherwise, in 2024 we will still remain at the bottom of the European ranking for the development of new mobility – with each month the distance to other member states is constantly increasing,” says Maciej Mazur, Managing Director of the PSPA.

Sylwia Ziemacka
Sylwia Ziemacka
“I believe our unique selling point is that we focus on what brings us together. Poland Weekly offers something you will not find anywhere else: a truly international and unifying perspective focused on content that builds cooperation and mutual understanding. This attitude doesn't make us naïve, but it allows us to focus on mutual understanding and a search for solutions. There are so many new challenges that we are all facing, such as energy transformation, climate change and supply chain disruption, to name but a few. By working together and sharing good practices, we can achieve so much more.”
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