The active development of electric transport in the world has become a consequence of the actualization of the climate agenda, in particular, the policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
From 2010 to 2019, CO2 emissions from road transport increased by 15.8%, and its share in total emissions in 2019 was 16.8% (+0.7 percentage points by 2010).
In Russia, electric transport is slowly entering the car market due to the high price compared to conventional fuel vehicles, the low level of development of charging infrastructure in most of the country, as well as the limited power reserve of electric vehicles. The two main advantages of an electric vehicle – economy compared to traditional vehicles and the absence of direct greenhouse gas emissions – in Russian conditions are offset by its high price, as well as the risks associated with the lack of refueling infrastructure.
Russia's share in the global electric vehicle market was only 0.1% in 2021, despite the fact that the growth rate of the number of electric vehicles using only an electric motor shows positive dynamics. At the same time, this dynamics is primarily due to the effect of a low base: until 2015, the number of electric vehicles was less than 300 units.
In 2021, the number of cars using exclusively electric motors in Russia reached 14.7 thousand units, which is more than 100 times higher than in 2015.
The average annual growth rate of the Russian fleet of electric vehicles from 2015 to 2021 amounted to 127.9%, however, in absolute terms, the growth rate of the number of electric vehicles in Russia is significantly behind the world leaders. For example, in Germany, which is in third place in the world in terms of the number of electric vehicles (687.3 thousand units), from 2015 to 2021, the average annual increase was 109 thousand units, while in Russia – 2.4 thousand units over the same period.
A key factor in the development of electric transport in terms of infrastructure is the availability and number of electric charging stations. At the end of 2021, according to Rosstat, there are 208 stations operating in Russia, of which 66 and 48 (in total 54.8% of the total number) are located on the territory of the Central and Siberian Federal Districts. Moreover, most of the stations are located on local roads (51.9%). Thus, the main problem of using an electric car in Russia is the inability to charge the vehicle when traveling long distances.
It is for this reason that the Concept for the Development of Production and Use of Electric Motor Transport in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2290-r on August 23, 2021, notes that in Russia it is most expedient to install two stations at a distance not exceeding 100 kilometers on general-purpose roads.
Despite the active dynamics of the growth of the number of stations in Russia in 2015-2021 (an increase of 33.2 times), even on the scale of the Russian fleet of electric vehicles, their number remains insufficient to meet demand. Thus, in Russia in 2021 there were 71 electric vehicles per 1 electric charging station, while in Germany there were 14 electric vehicles per one station.
The development of electric vehicles is directly related to a decrease in demand for petroleum products (primarily gasoline and diesel), and therefore with a reduction in their production. Together with the EU embargo, the development of the electric vehicle market may exacerbate the problem of shrinking sales markets for Russian crude oil.
However, now the obstacles to the development of the electric vehicle market are primarily related not to the glut of the domestic market of petroleum products, but to the general economic situation.
A decrease in real incomes of the population against the background of a reduction in the level of economic activity will reduce the demand for motor transport in general, especially for potentially more expensive electric vehicles. In order to ensure the ability of electric vehicles to compete with vehicles powered by internal combustion engines in the conditions of market compression, large-scale programs of subsidizing demand at the expense of budgetary funds may be necessary.
One of the mechanisms for supporting the automotive industry, which plays an important role for the economy as a whole, today is subsidizing both the production and consumption of cars for internal combustion engines. These cars compete with electric vehicles in the same market. Thus, the accelerated support of the electric vehicle segment will either lead to the need for even higher budget expenditures to ensure the competitiveness of electric vehicles by subsidizing their prices, or to a deterioration in the situation of consumers and manufacturers of cars on the internal combustion engine, if the state reduces part of the traditional support for them.
The distribution of state support funds is especially relevant with a potential reduction in federal budget revenues due to the gradual adaptation of the world market to the new conditions of trade in oil and petroleum products, which will lead to lower prices.
At the moment, the development of electric transport without additional subsidies seems unlikely – and this is not only a Russian problem. In terms of supporting the demand for electric vehicles, the experience of China, the owner of the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the world (1.1 million units in 2021) is indicative: for example, in September 2020, despite the pandemic, the Chinese company BYD sold 45% more electric vehicles than in September 2019. It is government support that ensures record sales in China: in 2020, 1 million more electric vehicles were sold in the country than in the United States.
The main instruments of state support are subsidies for the purchase of an electric car, a feature is the dependence of the subsidy amount on the volume of the battery and the cost of the electric car. In other words, government support for electric transport in China is flexible and variable, due to which a greater number of potential consumers get the opportunity to purchase an electric vehicle.
In order for the large–scale introduction of electric transport to justify its main goal – reducing greenhouse gas emissions - electricity used to charge electric vehicles, to develop an electric filling infrastructure to support the demand for electric vehicles.