A mysterious and intriguing future

Think of a modern family, living in Ljubljana’s suburb. Two parents, and two kids. At least one car, but rather two. Two cars with internal burning. For example, they live in Vrhnika, and work in Ljubljana – Šiška, which is about 17 km apart. 34 kilometres roundtrip per day. The parents do not commute to work, they rather drive in their own vehicle, every single day. Vrhnika has around 9.000 inhabitants, and, at least half of them by our guess, has a car. Imagine that people like those two parents live everywhere – Medvode, Domžale, Litija, Mengeš, or even further (Kranj, Bled, Jesenice, Ravne na Koroškem, etc.), in addition to the people, who already live inside of the ljubljana’s highway ring and do not commute to work, but use their own transportation. Imagine that all those people need to get to work every day in their own vehicle. Of course, there is some consequences – and not only the unimaginable traffic between 3 and 6 p.m. when trying to get out of Ljubljana. The bigger problem than sitting in a still car in the middle of the day is pollution, which is a result of fueled emission, let in the air by one most common polluters – our car.

 

In October  2017, Slovenia passed on a Strategy of alternative fuels, which determines that after 2030 it will not be allowed to register a new car with a carbon footprint larger than 50 g of CO2 per kilometre. If we thinkof the cars, that most of the people drive in the present, it means that only electric and accession hybrid cars would meet standard of the strategy. Use of alternative fuels is important to achieve environmental standards on the field of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. The main goal of the strategy is to enlarge the percentage of cars with alternative fuels up to 20 percent and that in the same year every second newly registered car would be electric. However, an electric car presents new technology that is still searching its place on the market and currently represents only one percent of total sales. Despite all the information we have received about the electric cars, it remains something new on the market that everyone does not quite understand it – just yet. In this article, we will start with the evolution of the card, however, the main focus will remain on the electric cars.

The birth of an electric car

Electric cars are not a recent technical inovation. In fact, they have a long, illistrious history that dates back to early nineteenth century. Nobody knows, who the inventor of the first electric car was; but it is believed that the first electric car was invented in 1828 by a Hungarian, Anyos Istvan Jedlik.

The evolution of the electric car is long, and by long we mean about 200 years long. We will fast forward to the electric cars, named EV1. Those cars were (basically) the cars, which started the evolution of electric cars. Dušan Lukič, Editor-in-Chief at Avtomagazin says, EV1, first founded in 1996 by General Motors, was a struggle because of it’s heavy and unrealiable battery. »The EV1 cars were electric vehicles, but they were definitely not suitable for everyday use. The market of the electric cars broke when Tesla introducted its S Model – and they proved that those cars have trunk, big enough, and are also fast enough, as well as drivable to further distances«.

2014: Zoe is born

Fast forward again, we will stop in 2014, when Renault Clio introduces its Zoe.

We will be comparing Renault Zoe with one of the best selling (European) cars Renault Clio. Clio is best-selling car in Europe. It’s a car with internal burning out, that can have gasoline or diesel engine. It’s a classical car, known to us for decades. But Clio differs from CI-6 when it comes to engines. New engines have smaller volumes which causes car exhaustions to be lower. Another component that aides in the improvement is the turbine. Turbine helps in engine becoming cleaner and stronger.

Zoe is a new, remodeled version, and compared to Tesla, the electric car, much more cheaper and reachable to the general population. The lowest price of the car is around 20.000 EUR, meanwhile basic Clio, made in 2017, costs around 10.500 EUR.

The main difference

In addition to the most known dissimilarity – which is the fuel, or no fuel – is the price.

Cars with internal burning run on gas, either diesel or gasoline.  Car absorbs gas into an engine where it burns out, and this burning is what causes  the exhaustions. These exhaustions are the main reason Slovenia is battling pollution this extensive, and is something that the car industry has given a lot of attention in the last ten years.

However, it would have been a lot easier if the electric cars would have been cheaper. Lukič says the main problem about electric cars, even Renault Zoe, remains the high price. Renault Zoe with intermediate class costs around 25.000 EUR. In case you buy Zoe or any electric car in Slovenia, you get a bonus of – at least 7.500 EUR – which knocks the price down to 18.000 EUR. However, the most important part of the electric car is the battery, which costs at minimum 59 EUR per month. If you added up all the costs for a Zoe, you can get an intermediate Volkswagen Passat for the same price as Zoe.

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At the same time, we should not forget about the better options of financial help for the electric cars. A 100 kilometers with Zoe costs around 1 EUR per average, meanwhile 100 km with a diesel car costs six or seven times more. The full tank for Zoe costs around 3,5 EUR, meanwhile a full tank for gasoline Clio costs about 55 EUR.

Mixed information may cause mixed feelings. We did some math and added up the costs in one year in two cars; if you drive Zoe or if you drive Clio. Let’s say you are an average car traveller and make 20.000 kilometers per year. In case of monthly payments, you would pay Zoe 425 EUR, and 290 EUR for Clio. Overall monthly fuel cost for Zoe would be 35 EUR, meanwhile gas for Clio is more expensive – 200 EUR. The advantage for an electric car is definitely free parking (in Ljubljana downtown for example), meanwhile with Clio, cost would be around 30 EUR per month. Total difference between having an electric car and a regular car: 30 EUR in favor of saving electricity.

The dilemma

So, if the study results are true, why does not everyone buy an electric car? First of all, the price remains the top concern. In case you own an electric car and do not want to rent a battery, but rather buy it, it is not cheap. The regular battery for Zoe, who can speed up to 200 km/h costs 8.000 EUR in addition to the fact it needs to be changed every three years, says Peter Koci, head salesman at Renault Slovenija.

Koci adds that electric car has a permanent engine torque, which is, in fact, one of the biggest differences when driving an electrical car, compared to driving a regular car – those also have different rotation speed. On the other hand, electric car has a permanent engine power, and the power never changes. So regardless if you drive Zoe up the hill, or down, the torque remains on the same level.

Although the prices of the gas keep rising, Koci says, that the fact has not convinced people to switch from a regular car to an electrical one. “People are often corned, let’s say for example people who do not live ina house, but apartment complexes. Those who live in the houses, are usually outside of Ljubljana, where there is not many charge stations. Majority of the people does look at this from the price perspective, but also from practical. If they go for vacation to Croatia, where the stations are not so common, they are scared they would run out of power. But, the thing is, whenever the battery is lower than 10%, a red light shows up on your control panel”.

Renault Slovenija sells about 4000 electrical cars per year, and about 1000 of those were sold in Avtohiša Real, Koci explains. And who usually buys this kind of cars? “The buyers of electrical car, Zoe for example, are people, who do not have any financial issues, and consider electrical car to be their second or third vehicle. They mostly have it for fun, and not to drive from a distance A to distance B”.  Koci added the most frequent buyers are extremely eco-friendly, well situated people, or by the companies for their advertising and promotions and for showing their progression and eco-friendliness.

So what to buy?

Kosi said the sales are raising, when it comes to electrical cars. “People tend to see the money and the price as the only issue, however, there are lots of factors that need to be considered,” he says. We have think about where are we going to drive, how much we are going to drive and when we are going to drive in we want to make a rational purchase. Not just the price of an electric car, also price of used fuel and price od car services need to be considered when we think of buying an electrical car. Taking all the factors into consideration, having an electric car is quite an investment. In average, a Slovenian driver makes between 15.000 and 20.000 kilometers per year. The minimum distance, where buying an electrical car would be a rational investment, is between 40.000 and 50.000 kilometers per year – with Renault Zoe. With more expensive cars, that gap is even bigger.

Averagely there is approximately 1 percent of electric cars sold in Europe. By the words of Peter Koci, most electric cars are bought in France, by eco-friendly people, that don’t worry about the cost an rationality of purchase. This people are usually well situated when it comes to finances and buy electric car as second or even more often third car in a family. A lot of electric cars are also bought by companies that use this cars for promotions and for showing their progression and eco-friendliness.

Does an electric car has a future?

Lukič says electric car does not just have future, therefore it already is the future. He sees an invasion of electrical cars in the next 20 years. Further more, the Avtomagazin’s editor in chief  thinks electrical cars will dominate in about 40 years. He evaluates the government’s strategy as achievable only if Slovenia, as a united country, works as one. In the meantime, there will also be some more electricity, power and car development. Though this development is fast and unpredictable, it could happen that in a few years, there could be a break through in the field of battery development, which would make it possible for electric cars to replace cars with internal burn out even sooner than Lukič predicted.

Authors: Andreja Novoselič, Yagiz Erdem, Neža Pavčič