Bulgaria's government has hopes the country will be able to assume a leading innovation role with respect to the development and use of electric cars, Economy Minister Traicho Traikov has suggested.
Speaking at an international conference in Sofia Thursday entitled "Electric Cars – Challenges to New Mobility" Traikov declared that since electric cars are an innovative and new product, "new players" can assume a major role in the development of this market, hinting that Bulgaria has aspirations to become one of them.
He revealed that the Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism has formed a working group working out options to stimulate the introduction, purchase, and use of electric cars in Bulgaria.
The working already has come up with several mechanisms to promote the wider use of electric vehicles that are to be presented at the second day of the conference on Friday. Representatives of other ministries are supposed to join in the working group to solidify the commitment of the Bulgarian government to the innovative product.
According to Traikov, the government ponders over how to integrate electric vehicles in public transport as well.
The stated that the electric cars will be extremely important for Bulgaria's energy system because a potential development of a "smart grid" would allow for them to be used as "regulators" of electricity consumption and prices since they can store excessive amounts of electricity and then release it in a time of energy shortage.
Back in January, Japan's Toshiba Corporation offered Bulgaria a large-scale project in the field of renewable energy, "smart electricity grids" and electric cars, with Traikov demonstrating excitement on part of Bulgaria with respect to the prospects of a smart grid combined with electric cars.
In Traikov's presence, the Toshiba Corporation and the Bulgarian Energy Holding, a government megastructure uniting the largest state energy companies in Bulgaria, signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Energy Development.
In his words, electric cars have the great advantage of being able to replace cars running on gas without the need to build additional power plants.
On Thursday, he pointed out that at present electric cars are expensive because they are produced in small quantities, and the aid of state and local authorities for their development is crucial.
"I spoke with a representative of the Renault Group, who told me that if the production of electric cars is increased 10 times, the price of their components will go down more than 10 times," the Bulgarian Economy Minister said.
He is convinced that electric cars have indisputable qualities but that the best business model to stimulate their purchase and use must be found.
During the conference, Traikov made test drives of several electric vehicles presented to the participants in the forum.
"Electric cars generate almost zero greenhouse gas emissions, and their use will help not just to protect the environment; it will also alleviate some difficulties in the energy sector in combination with smart grids without having to build new production facilities," the Minister said.
Several days ahead of the conference, Bulgaria's EVIC, i.e. "Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster" announced that turning a gas-fueled car into an electric car can be done at the price of not more than BGN 8000.
EVIC is an entity that unites several Bulgarian major producers of electric vehicles, solar batteries, and chargers for electric cars, as well as developers from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. EVIC pointed out that running 100 km costs only BGN 2.5-3 in an electric car, 10 times cheaper than in a gas-fueled car under the current Bulgarian prices.