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Electric Cars: Beyond the City and Ready for the Highway

AUTOMOTIVEElectric Cars: Beyond the City and Ready for the Highway

The extensive range of modern electric cars, low charging costs even at the most expensive stations, and improving accessibility to chargers mean that zero-emission vehicles increasingly prove themselves not only in city traffic but also on highways. Some drivers even cover up to 100,000 kilometers annually with such cars. What is still lacking is, certainly, charging points. Especially in cities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a free charger to which a car can be connected overnight. Already existing stations, mainly on routes, need a larger number of chargers, especially since sometimes there can be a waiting queue, and in the coming years, the number of electric cars will increase rapidly.

“It’s a myth that electric cars are only for city driving. Electric car users either drive solely in the city with smaller cars or successfully use cars in the same way as vehicles powered by fuel. In our club, we have examples of people driving electric cars very much, for example, 60, 80, or even 100 thousand kilometers a year, so they are definitely not just city cars.” said Łukasz Lewandowski, President of the EV Poland Foundation board, in a conversation with Newseria Innovations.

The fact that electric cars can also be used successfully on long journeys are proven by the data collected during last year’s edition of the “Highway to Electromobility” event. Over a thousand people took part and traveled almost 43 thousand kilometers on the A1 highway and almost 70 thousand kilometers on the A4 Katowice-Krakow section. Daily observations by foundation members also suggest that using an electric car does not significantly differ from how owners of gasoline vehicles use them.

“Electric car users cover the same distance as drivers of conventional vehicles. We usually commute 10, 20, 30, 50 km to work, and an electric car easily covers this distance. Moreover, we carried out a survey in our club, where users declared how much they drive daily. Half of them travel between 50 and 150 km, which is more distance than an average Pole travels daily, emphasizes Lewandowski.

Electric vehicles are purchased not only as a means of getting around congested cities. The choice of cars by drivers who participated in the Highway to Electromobility event shows this as well. The most popular choice was the Tesla Model 3 (D segment), followed by Tesla Model Y (SUV) and Tesla Model S (E segment). The top spots were taken by Kia EV6 (D segment crossover) and Audi e-tron (SUV). These are not small city electric cars or even larger compacts.

The cost of traveling with electric vehicles compared to fuel-powered cars also often influences the choice. In the case of electric cars, it’s hard to define them unequivocally.

“The cost of charging electric cars can basically be zero if someone has a paid-off photovoltaic installation and is charging from it. If they don’t have such an installation, but charge from the grid, the cost of such charging or 100 km travels averages between PLN 12 and 15. From our survey, it turned out that users declared that the cost of home charging is PLN 14.33. As for charging at public stations or the cost of 100 km, our users stated that it is PLN 23,” points out Lewandowski.

For comparison, considering current prices of petrol and diesel, to reach the cost of traveling 100 km equivalent to what electric car owners indicate for charging at public stations, a car would have to have fuel consumption of about 3.8 liters per 100 km. In the case of LPG, it could be about 7.8 liters per 100 km. The cost of charging an electric car also depends on the charging speed and the operator.

“Initially, we must divide the stations into slow and fast, i.e., AC and DC stations. Slower stations will be cheaper per kilowatt-hour, faster ones will be more expensive. If we focus on fast charging, the fees can also vary. A different rate will apply for charging stations with a power of 50 kW than for those with powers of 250 or 350 kW. So this is one factor. Another factor is the subscription programs introduced by charging station operators. Depending on whether we have such a monthly subscription or not, the rate can also vary. If we own and pay a monthly subscription, the per kilowatt-hour rates are lower; if not, the rates are higher,” explains the expert.

The number of charging points is increasing regularly, so recharging the battery level along the route is not such a challenge as a few years ago. Data from the Polish Alternative Fuels Association suggests that by 2030, the number of charging points will increase from about 5,000 to 100,000. A tenfold increase in the number of new chargers may occur within two years.

“We definitely need more AC stations in cities. People living in multi-family buildings, i.e., blocks of flats, have nowhere to charge. In housing estates, we need a lot of slow charging stations where these people will be able to connect their vehicles overnight. As for the infrastructure on the routes, it is there, but it is already becoming insufficient. Cars increase faster than charging stations, and the capacity at these charging stations is definitely decreasing. Therefore, where we have locations with charging stations and there is, for example, one charging station, we need two, three, or more,” believes Lewandowski.

Investment challenges in the infrastructure area are all the more urgent as the sales of electric cars will increase dynamically in the coming years. According to PSPA, in 2025, the total number of passenger and delivery fully electric vehicles in Poland may increase to almost 300,000 units.

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