The Renault K-ZE
Earlier this month Renault launched one of the most important vehicles in its history, if not one of the most important vehicles of the past two decades period. The all-electric Renault K-ZE, based on the Kwid (its naming in the European market), offers a remarkable real-world range of around 100 miles for a starting price of around 7,400 euros. That is an astonishingly low entry point for a zero emission proposition.
It’s important that such options exist, particularly for first-time buyers or drivers looking to replace older vehicles with clean, modern alternatives at low cost because this is how significant EV adoption can take place. Vehicles from Tesla and all-electric competitors from traditional automakers might beat the K-ZE for range, aesthetics, interior luxury and ride quality, but that’s secondary to the genuine espousal of electric vehicles and the infrastructure-related ramifications it will produce.
In this regard, it is notable to see that India, a market in which the original Renault Kwid (the car the K-ZE is based on) has been thriving in, will not have the K-ZE as an option until 2022 due to the sluggish development of electric vehicle infrastructure in the country. While India is expected to improve significantly in this respect, it also stands to reason that such a vast geographic area will require a significant amount of time to implement such plans.
Electric Vehicles in Cyprus
This is where Cyprus can (and should already have been) use its small size to its advantage. Let us consider the following figures:
- The driving distance between Nicosia and Limassol is approximately 85 km
- The driving distance between Paphos and Limassol is approximately 57 km
- The driving distance between Nicosia and Larnaca is approximately 56 km
- The driving distance between Nicosia and Paphos is approximately 150 km
- The average driving distance per single trip for Cypriots is 10.4 km*
- Median all-electric vehicle range in 2018 was 201 km
- The median all-electric vehicle range saw a 71% increase from 2011 to 2018
- Gas-consuming engines typically convert 17% to 21% of the energy stored in fuel to energy at the wheel
- Electric vehicles typically convert 85% to 90% of the energy in their motor(s) to energy at the wheel
*data analysis can be found in: Analysis of National Travel Statistics in Europe by The European Commission
It stands to reason that Cyprus has tremendous potential for electric vehicle adoption and could become a leader in this amongst its EU peers. The shortness of average distance travelled per trip coupled with the small geographical size of the island make the use case for EV adoption highly attractive.
As of now, the Electric Authority of Cyprus (EAC) has installed 18 charging stations across the island: 6 charging in the Nicosia Area, 4 in Limassol, 1 in Platres , 2 in Larnaca , 2 in Protaras, 2 in Paphos and 1 in Polis Chrysochous.
This is not adequately thorough and definitely not enough to convince people of the viability of electric vehicles in Cyprus. The government needs to be doing much more to make the move away from internal combustion engines an appealing and feasible proposition to the average driver on the island. Further, it should incentivize the installation of home charging units, whether by subsidies or through other applicable schemes. The long term benefits far outweigh any short term costs.
Mitigating costs and encouraging adoption
One way to mitigate any subsidies provided as incentives for EV adoption could be to explicitly allocate funds generated from the road tax changes enacted in 2018. The new road tax bill takes into consideration the combined cycle CO2 emissions (euros per gramme per kilometre).
The above bill followed an EU-mandated improvement on car emissions tests that came into place in September of 2017. As per the European Commission, “Member States have to comply with EU limit values for a number of pollutants, including NO2, and establish air quality plans for the zones or agglomerations where these limit values are exceeded.”.
Finally, a push towards EV adoption could help reignite the domestic car market, which has stagnated in 2019, with a 6.9% decrease in saloon car sales in January (year on year) and a 4.6% decrease in February (YoY). While the stagnation of the car market has been justifiably linked to the confusion around the new tax bill and other such legislation, this can also be addressed by a move towards electric vehicles, as they are exempt from road taxes and excise duties. Cypriots have indeed shown some willingness to adopt cleaner technologies, with hybrid car registrations increasing by 323% from 2015 to 2018.