Although electric and hybrid cars have increased their importance in Romania, they are still a niche. The sector could develop in the future by implementing a multiannual strategy with a gradual reduction of state support.

By Anda Sebesi

Over 2,800 electric and hybrid cars were sold last year on the Romanian market, up by 136.7 percent compared with 2016, according to data released by the Automotive Manufacturers and Association (APIA). Of the total, 514 were electric cars while 2,297 were hybrid vehicles. But as data show, electric and hybrid cars are still an emerging segment in Romania, as they reached just 2.2 percent of the total number of new cars sold on the local market last year. According to APIA, over January-December 2017 BMW posted the highest sales on the electric cars segment (166 units) followed by Renault (98), Volkswagen (83), Mercedes-Benz (64), Mitsubishi (32), Volvo (20), Audi (14), Porsche (12) and Kia (7), while Toyota had the highest sales on the hybrid segment (2,063), followed by Lexus (154), Kia (22) and Mercedes-Benz (2).

“In the coming weeks we will become the first brand that has delivered 250 electric cars in Romania. We have a wide range of clients, from transport companies to private customers, a fact that shows electric cars make are a very interesting product also for our market. Electric mobility works in Romania too. Furthermore, plug-in hybrid cars are becoming a mature product as well,” says Alexandru Seremet, corporate communication manager, BMW Group Romania. He adds that a very encouraging fact is that the charging infrastructure is developing at a constant pace and maturing with the market. “We have committed players that invest in city charging stations (medium power) and there are several high-power charging points due to be launched by 2020. With all these development, electric driving is becoming increasingly convenient,” he adds.ver 2,800 electric and hybrid cars were sold last year on the Romanian market, up by 136.7 percent compared with 2016, according to data released by the Automotive Manufacturers and Association (APIA). Of the total, 514 were electric cars while 2,297 were hybrid vehicles. But as data show, electric and hybrid cars are still an emerging segment in Romania, as they reached just 2.2 percent of the total number of new cars sold on the local market last year. According to APIA, over January-December 2017 BMW posted the highest sales on the electric cars segment (166 units) followed by Renault (98), Volkswagen (83), Mercedes-Benz (64), Mitsubishi (32), Volvo (20), Audi (14), Porsche (12) and Kia (7), while Toyota had the highest sales on the hybrid segment (2,063), followed by Lexus (154), Kia (22) and Mercedes-Benz (2).

Examples from world markets show us that electric car market development is strongly driven by state support. Electric heroes like Norway and California registered an explosion of electric car sales due to government support. In the Netherlands, where the plug-in support has started and stopped several times, the market mirrored the same evolution. “In our opinion, state support is needed in order to incentivise and start electric car sales, to encourage the adoption of the new technology. This can come in several forms, not only purchased subsides, for example special lanes, free parking, tax incentives and many others,” says the representative of BMW. “However, what is also very important, we do not want the electrified car market to become dependent on state support; we see this as a necessity to help the market develop. Therefore, alongside a strong program, a multiannual strategy with a gradual reduction of state support and a normalisation of the market is needed.”

So how can electric and hybrid cars become a mass market product here? “As a starting point, I believe it is important to make a clear differentiation. Electrified cars those that have an electric range of over 20 km and are plug-in vehicles that can be charged from a plug. On the other hand, hybridisation doesn’t have the goal of electrification, but efficiency, and these technologies are becoming main stream.”

He adds: “From 2025 we expect most of our cars, if not the complete range, to be mild hybrid cars, meaning they will feature an electric motor for brake regeneration and for acceleration assist (but not for electric driving alone). In addition, electrified vehicles are growing in importance, as we diversify our electrified vehicles range. Until 2025, based on a flexible architecture for all its cars, BMW Group will offer 25 electric and plug-in cars, so we expect sales in Romania to increase significantly.”

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