Thursday, 12 January 2023

2023 Brings New Challenges for Croatian Electric Car Owners

January the 12th, 2023 - Croatian electric car owners have had somewhat of a financial shock ever since we entered the new year. Just like with almost everything else, there has been a price increase for the use of public car chargers across the country, but there are ways around it if you have your wits about you...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the previous price of 5/kWh kuna (or 0.66 euros) is no longer that price because one single kWh of electricity from public charging stations across Croatia has jumped to 8.59 kuna or 1.14 euros. The price refers to fast charging with a power of up to 150 kW, but the price is identical at charging stations that offer a power of 50 kW, according to a report from HAK.

Nevertheless, in some locations, Croatian electric car owners can still come across more favourable charging prices of 0.31 euros or 2.44 kuna, also for 50 kW DC charging. Please note that the high prices of 1.14 euros don't apply to chargers on motorways where the prices could be higher than in populated areas. An electric care was charged in the heart of Slavonski Brod the aforementioned price. At some locations here in Zagreb, one kW is charged at 0.53 euros or 4.00 kuna (for AC 22 kW charging). Driving over more recent days on Croatian roads and through various cities, DC 50 kW charging via CCS chargers for 0.44 euros per kWh, or 3.32 kuna, were also found. A kilowatt cost the same at one charger via the CHAdeMo charger.

It is extremely important for Croatian electric car owners/drivers to really check the charging price through several different mobile applications (if they work, that is). Croatian electric car owners also have at least five or six apps available to them on their smartphones, and sometimes using a service provider's app doesn't guarantee you'll get a cheaper charge somewhere. There are apps like Plugsurfing with which you can charge your vehicle at different charging stations.

At the same time, while the price of one kilowatt approaches the price of a litre of fuel, the question of the profitability of charging at public stations arises, that is, of travelling outside the place of your residence with an electric vehicle just to charge it up. If we take into account the average consumption of 15 kWh of electricity and 7 litres for thermal engines, we arrive at the following results:

Driving a section of 100 kilometres using petrol will cost you 9.31 euros or 70.15 kuna, while using a diesel-powered vehicle it will amount to 10.29 euros or 77.53 kuna. If you charge your battery at home, with the price of the night tariff standing at around 0.08 euros (about 0.60 kuna) per kWh, the 100 kilometres travelled will cost a mere 9 kuna or 1.19 euros. Charging your vehicle at a public charging station with a kilowatt price of 4 kuna (0.53 euros) will ultimately cost 60 kuna (7.96 euros). If Croatian electric car owners end up using a charger at a public station costing 8.59 kuna (1.14 euros), they'll pay 128.85 kuna (17.10 euros) for 100 kilometres travelled.

It should be noted that the majority of Croatian electric car owners typically charge their batteries at home or at work and use charging at public chargers only as a rare alternative. This is something that can be fairly clearly seen all over Croatia and has been visible for some time now - public charging stations are usually sitting empty and the current situation with charging prices doesn't suit anyone.

The solution is subscription models such as the Elli application, which for 7.99 euros per month (60.20 kuna) enables charging at a preferential price per kWh of 0.64 euros (on DC chargers) or 0.50 euros on AC chargers, while on Ionity chargers the price is 0.79 euros/kWh. A subscription with a price of 14.99 euros lowers the price of a kilowatt hour even more. Across Croatia, HEP and other electricity operators could offer a combined subscription that includes consumption of electricity at home and at public chargers.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

200 New Fast Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Croatia by 2030

November 3, 2022 - According to Hrvoje Prpić of Strujni Krug, by 2030, Croatia must have enough electric vehicle charging stations as if 5% of the total 'fleet' was fully electric.

As Poslovni writes, the European Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) has reached a new level that will have significant effects on Croatia as well after the Committee for Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament adopted the regulation proposal for consideration, which is now going to the EU Parliament and the EU Council.

The new regulation established the so-called nationally binding goals that will prescribe how many European Union member states must set up electricity or hydrogen filling stations for light and heavy vehicles and also insists on the unification of payments via bank credit cards.

For example, for member states such as Croatia, which have less than 1% share of electric vehicles in the total fleet of vehicles, it is determined that by 2025 they must install charging stations with a power equivalent of 3kW for each fully electric vehicle and 2kW for each plug-in hybrid vehicle. According to the current situation, Croatia would have to install chargers with a total power of 11,524 kW.

Personal and light delivery vehicles

As explained by Hrvoje Prpić, the president of the Association of Electric Vehicle Drivers - Strujni Krug, Croatia will need to install 100-200 fast charging stations for electric vehicles by 2025, depending on their power, to fulfill this condition.

He adds that by 2027, the infrastructure of charging stations across the country will have to provide the same power as if 3% of the total fleet were fully electric. By 2030, the number of stations will have to increase as if 5% of the total fleet were fully electric. Thus, by 2027, and according to the current situation and the number of the current fleet, Croatia will have to install charging stations with a total power of over 70,000 kW, and by 2030 with a total power of more than 119,000 kW.

"If, for example, ultra-fast charging stations with a power of 150 kW are to be installed, which can charge an average vehicle in 10-25 minutes, Croatia will have to install around 470 such charging stations by 2027, and almost 800 by 2030," says Prpić. There are currently around 2.8 million motor vehicles registered in Croatia, of which 2.2 million are passenger cars. The number of electric vehicles is around 2,000.

The AFIR would set goals for the significant strengthening of the infrastructure on the TEN-T corridor, which connects all the main traffic points in Europe. This means that the number of charging stations for light and heavy electric vehicles on the routes Ljubljana - Zagreb, and Varaždin - Rijeka would be further increased.

For electric passenger and light delivery vehicles, the regulation aims to ensure complete coverage of charging stations along the leading EU network and thus ensure easy travel by electric vehicles throughout the Union.

The goal is that by 2025 there will be a station every 60 km with charging stations with a total power of at least 600 kW and at least one charging station of 300 kW. By 2030, the mentioned charging stations at the stops should be upgraded to 900 kW, and at least two charging stations should have a power of 350 kW.

Upgrading the rest stops

On the other hand, AFIR requires that, by 2025, for heavy delivery and passenger vehicles on the TEN-T corridor, charging stations with a minimum power of 2000 kW must be installed every 60 km, of which at least two will have a power of 800 kW. By 2030, these stations should be upgraded with charging stations with a total power of 5,000 kW, of which at least four will have a capacity of 800 kW.

Additionally, on all roads connected to the TEN-T corridor, member states must provide a network of charging stations every 100 km by 2025, which will have a total power of 2000 kW and at least one charging station with a capacity of 800 kW. By 2035, the charging stations will have to be upgraded to a total power of 5000 kW with at least two charging stations with a capacity of 800 kW.

Additionally, each urban junction on the mentioned roads will have to have a minimum of 1400 kW of power by the end of 2025, which will be distributed to four 350 kW charging stations, and by 2030 the total capacity will have to increase to 3500 kW.

Additional rest areas/parking lots will have to provide at least two charging stations with a minimum power of 100 kW with V2G technology by 2027 or at least four such charging stations by 2030.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Uswitch: Zagreb Fifth Worst in Amount of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

August the 3rd, 2022 - The City of Zagreb is the fifth worst in Europe in terms of the amount of available electric vehicle charging stations according to Uswitch.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, the constant rise in fuel prices led 70 percent of Europeans to choose an electric vehicle as their first choice when buying their next new vehicle, according to research by Uswitch, a platform for comparing energy prices.

Additional research also determined the top list of European metropolises that invest the most in the network of charging stations for electric vehicles they have available to road users, and those that are significantly behind in this segment. The Croatian capital of Zagreb is one of those cities lagging behind quite a lot.

Unfortunately, the City of Zagreb has a mere 43 charging stations available in total for electric vehicle owners according to Uswitch, which is still more than the nearby Slovenian capital of Ljubljana (41) and Vilnius (21) and Sofia, Nicosia and Riga, all of which have a mere 15 charging stations each.

The situation is actually worse when this set of data is put into the context of the spatial size of the city itself, meaning that the Croatian capital city of Zagreb has just 0.07 charging stations for electric vehicles per square kilometre. Still, Zagreb isn't the absolute worst on the list, with the Bulgarian capital of Sofia having just 0.01 per square metre, while the Greek capital of Athens is slightly better than Zagreb with 0.10 charging stations for every kilometre of space.

The capital of neighbouring Hungary, (Budapest) for example, already has 452 stations for electric cars, which is ten times more than Zagreb can boast of. With three million inhabitants, Budapest is, of course, much larger than the Croatian capital city, but the fact that for every 100,000 inhabitants there are 80 percent more charging stations than the Croatian metropolis is quite worrying indeed.

Uswitch has determined that the Norwegian capital city of Oslo (2,481) has advanced the farthest in this segment of environmental awareness, and Oslo's residents have access to almost five and a half charging stations per square kilometre in that city, of which the British capital city of London has the most in total (4,991).

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Croatian Electric Car Purchase Incentives Prove an Absolute Hit

June the 28th, 2022 - Croatian electric car purchase incentives which were only introduced yesterday have proven an absolute hit among all those choosing to opt for electric vehicles.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the tender for the award of Croatian electric car purchase incentives from the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency was opened yesterday at 08:00, and by 08:30, literally thirty minutes later, 99 percent of the provisions of a total of 103.3 million kuna were filled. As of 08:50 that same morning, applications for Croatian electric car purchase incentives was no longer possible.

"The method of application for both people and companies was the same as it was last year. At the end of May, we published a public call/invitation for expressions of interest towards car distributors, and at the end of June, a public call for co-financing the purchase of electric cars for people and companies came to be. The amount of Croatian electric car purchase incentives per vehicle wasn't set to change this year and amounted to between 20 and 70 thousand kuna, depending on the category of vehicle and type of drive,'' they said from the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency.

This means that this year, too, the implementation of grants for the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles was carried out according to the procedure introduced last year, which has proven to be more efficient than the previous practice(s).

To be more specific, last year, a new, changed procedural method was introduced, according to which the famous "first come first served'' method was avoided, ie the model according to which incentives were given to those who managed to apply first. Apart from the fact that such a system was criticised by both individuals and legal entities, it was also unsuccessful because in the end, only 50 percent of people to whom the incentive was granted, actually bothered to use the incentive. Under this new system, individuals and legal entities no longer apply to the public call directly, but through authorised motor vehicle dealers based here in the Republic of Croatia.

As such, this year as well, the aforementioned Fund first announced a public call to which dealers were able to apply, who then reported points of sale and available vehicle models through the Fund's application. At their points of sale, individuals and legal entities received an offer for a vehicle and dealers applied for the Croatian electric car purchase incentives on their behalf.

Therefore, those who wanted to get their hands on Croatian electric car purchase incentives this time around still had to be fast, meaning they needed to fully prepare before the announcement of the public call, which meant studying the offer of the vehicles for which they could apply for subsidies, and which were being offered on the Croatian market, and there were more and more every day. According to information from the Fund, the utilisation of the funds from last year's public call has been much better than it was in previous years, but they don't yet have an accurate analysis. The reason is that the deadline for the purchase of these vehicles, ie the use of the reserved funds, had been prolonged due to the extended deadlines placed on the delivery of cars on a global level. The procedure after a successful incentive booking is, therefore, exactly like it was last year.

The buyer has been required to pay a minimum advance of 7 percent of the Fund's requested funds, for example if an incentive of 70,000 kuna was requested, the dealer would have to be paid out a sum of 4,900 kuna. The deadline for delivery and use of incentives will be nine months from the approval of co-financing. By far the most sought-after vehicles for co-financing last year were electric cars, for which 70,000 kuna was made available this year as well.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

More Croatian Electric Vehicles on Road Than Ever Before

January the 21st, 2022 - There are more Croatian electric vehicles on the country's roads than ever before, and despite their high asking price, it seems that the reason for Croatian residents purchasing them is still more economical than it is ecological.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, we've been witnessing record high Croatian fuel prices over recent months, which is an additional reason to think about alternative fuels and electric vehicles (EV).

The fact that Croats are seriously thinking about and working on this is shown by some interesting recently published data, according to which as many as 1,436 new and 340 used Croatian elecric vehicles were sold in 2021, which is the highest ever.

According to the Electric Circuit Drivers Association, this is a record because last year the country recorded an increase in sales of new EVs of as much as 154 percent compared to the previous year of 2020.

"During 2021, 1436 new Croatian electric vehicles were sold, which together with existing EVs and used imports makes up a total of 3054 registered electric vehicles according to statistics from the Croatian Vehicle Centre - CVH," said Hrvoje Prpic, the president of the Circuit.

He added that almost all new Croatian elecric vehicles were purchased with their accompanying state incentives, which shows that the new incentive model that came to life last year has finally become functional. The Renault Twingo E-Tech was expected to be the best-selling electric car in all of Croatia with a total of 444 units sold, followed by the Tesla Model 3 with 219 units and the Hyundai Kona Electric with 94 units.

The top 10 best-selling new Croatian electric vehicles also include the Škoda Enyaq with 90 units sold, the Volkswagen ID.3 with 79 vehicles, the Volkswagen ID.4 with 72 cars and the Dacia Spring Electric with 63 electric vehicles. Also on the list are the Renault Kangoo Z.E. with 53 cars sold, the Audi Q4 e-tron with 29 and the Škoda Citigo iV with 27 units sold.

According to Electric Circuit, if we're to go off the information provided by the statistics of the Croatian Vehicle Centre, it can be concluded that about 340 used electric vehicles now in the country were imported elsewhere, so the overall growth of the fully electric fleet in Croatia is as high as 127 percent.

The fact that electric cars are becoming more and more popular, but also that a large number of customers still have reservations about this type of technology, has been showcased by a global survey published recently by the consulting company Deloitte.

“While global carmakers are trying to deliver on their promises of a more electric future, consumers are only interested in sustainable (electric) propulsion if it will reduce fuel costs, provide them with better driving experiences and a sense of environmental contribution. However, due to certain limitations that electric vehicle drivers still face, many customers continue to turn to proven, well-known internal combustion vehicles, meaning that only some consumers are willing to pay for these advanced technologies,'' Deloitte believes.

Some of the main highlights of this analysis, which included 26,000 consumers from 25 different countries, are that despite growing societal interest in ecology and sustainability, most consumers are still unwilling to pay more than 500 US dollars for advanced technologies such as alternative source energy engines.

Furthermore, consumers are reluctant to pay for other types of advanced equipment including autonomous driving, increased safety and connectivity. Consequently, as they pointed out, vehicles with internal combustion engines will continue to be the leader, the future choice of American customers (69%). When it comes to alternative engines, consumer interest in battery-powered electric vehicles is highest in the Republic of Korea (23%), China (17%) and Germany (15%), while Japanese buyers (48%) are more inclined to buy hybrid electric vehicles. Most future buyers of electric vehicles intend to charge their vehicles at home, especially in Japan (76%), India (76%), the US (75%) and Germany (70%).

Gordan Kozulj, a former celebrated Croatian swimmer and the now director of Deloitte's business consulting department, pointed out that the automotive industry remains resilient despite the coronavirus pandemic affecting almost all aspects of its business operations.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Croatian Strujni Krug Association Brings Together Charging Stations

October the 27th, 2021 - The Croatian Strujni Krug Association (Electric Circle) has been at the forefront of promoting all things electric for some time now, and they are now bringing together important actors for the benefit of electric vehicle owners.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Strujni Krug Association has brought together the five largest charging station operators in the Republic of Croatia, which together make up 99 percent of the entire domestic market, in order to enable electric vehicle drivers to have access to almost all chargers across Croatia and a large number in the European Union (EU), the association revealed this week.

Electric car drivers have long faced the problem of a large number of applications that need to be installed in order to activate the charger to which they intend to connect their vehicles. The reason for this is that every Croatian bottling plant operator has its own application.

Last week, therefore, the first meeting was held between the representatives of the Croatian Strujni Krug Association and the largest Croatian filling station operators: ELEN, Petrol, Hrvatski Telekom (Croatian Telecom), MOON and Absolute, and an initiative was launched to establish full and proper cooperation between the aforementioned entities.

It was proposed at the meeting that all operators connect to a common platform, and in the second step, they should conclude bilateral agreements that would avoid additional roaming costs.

In this way, it will be enough for electric vehicle drivers/users to use only one application, from any of these operators, in order to have access to all publicly available filling stations of their partner operators.

"What we've achieved in Croatia puts us ahead of most other European Union member states. If we continue to do down this path, I'm sure that the Republic of Croatia will achieve 100 percent of the sales of new electric vehicles before 2032, when this goal is expected to be achieved,'' said the president of the Croatian Strujni Krug Association, Hrvoje Prpic.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Electric Cars in Croatia to Make Up More Than Third of Fleet by 2050

April the 24th, 2021 - Electric cars in Croatia could be set to make up more than one third of the country's vehicle fleet by the year 2050 as the national energetic transition gradually continues.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, between 107 and 168 billion kuna will be required for the complete technological and energy transition of the Republic of Croatia according to the proposal of the Low Carbon Development Strategy until 2030 with a view to 2050. The draft of the above was accepted by the Croatian Government yesterday.

The Croatian low-carbon strategy envisions that the existing national building stock will be renovated and the new one will be fully constructed based on the principles of near-zero energy buildings, as well as on the basis of circular management.

Energy supplies will be more secure, it will be drawn from renewable sources and with low emissions, and energy consumers will also be energy producers themselves. The combination of on-site electricity generation and supply from the public grid will no doubt provide a high level of security of electricity supply.

The Croatian transport system will be intermodal and integrated, mostly with electric vehicles and the use of low-carbon and climate-neutral fuel, and in 2050, electric cars in Croatia should make up 35 percent of the country's fleet of 762,700 e-cars. Currently there are around 1,500 electric cars in Croatia.

Industry and agriculture will be far more energy efficient and connected to all sectors of the economy, while working harder to reduce waste generation in an integrated and circular economy. According to the Croatian Government, the praiseworthy low-carbon strategy paves the way for the transition to a sustainable, competitive economy, in which economic growth is achieved with low greenhouse gas emissions.

About one hundred measures have been selected which can be applied to reduce emissions across various different sectors: electricity and heat production, fuel production and processing, transport, general consumption, industry, agriculture, land use, forestries, waste, product use and of course - emissions.

According to the national strategy, these measures are embedded in three main scenarios: the Reference Scenario (NUR), the Gradual Transition Scenario (NU1) and the Strong Transition Scenario (NU2). The NUR reference scenario is a continuation of existing practices, all of which are in line with current legislation and targets by the year 2030.

It assumes technological progress and the growth of the share of renewable energy sources (RES) and energy efficiency based on the market situation at this time and the target energy standards set today. This is a scenario with a slight increase in the share of RES and energy efficiency. Emissions in this scenario will decrease by 28.9 percent by 2030 and by 46.3 percent by 2050 compared to the level of emissions recorded back in 1990.

The share of renewables in this scenario is 35.7 percent in 2030 and 45.5 percent in 2050. NU1 is more ambitious and assumes a strong increase in unit prices, which represent the right to emit one tonne of CO2 equivalent up to 92.1 euros/t CO2 in 2050, which is a major driver of transition.

The share of renewable energy sources in 2030 under this scenario stands at 36.4 percent, and in 2050 it could be 53.2 percent. The NU1 scenario is set to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 33.5 percent in 2030 and 56.8 percent in 2050 when compared to the aforementioned 1990 reference.

The scenario of strong transition NU2 is dimensioned with the aim to achieve emission reductions by a massive 80 pecent in 2050 when compared to 1990. In this scenario as well as with NU1, a strong increase in unit prices to 92.1 euros/t CO2 in 2050 and very strong energy efficiency measures is envisioned.

The share of renewable energy sources in 2030 under this scenario is 36.4 percent, and in 2050 it could be 65.6 percent. In this scenario, in 2050, the dominant source of emissions remains traffic, followed by agriculture and industry. By applying the measures known today, including those that are socio-economically acceptable for agriculture, an emission reduction of 73.1 percent could be achieved.

The share of electricity and hydrogen is expected to increase, while the share of solid and liquid fossil fuels is decreasing. Natural gas consumption will remain roughly the same until 2030 and then it will declines by 15 percent by 2050. The total share of fossil fuels will decline to 53.2 percent in 2030 and to 41 percent in 2050.

The strategy predicts that the share of direct energy consumption in industry in Croatia will remain at around 17 percent by 2030 and then grow to 19.8 percent in 2050. In the NU1 scenario, total power plant power will grow to 6.57 gigawatts (GW) in 2030, or to 10.3 GW in 2050.

Currently, HEP has about 4 GW installed in the production of electricity and 1 GW of heat. On average, it wil be necessary to build about 260 megawatts of new power plants a year to keep up with this ambitious plan.

For more on electric cars in Croatia and much more, follow our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Croatian New Builds Must Have Electric Car Charging Pre-Installations

March the 13th, 2021 - All Croatian new builds must boast electric car charging stations as the era of electricity and the better care for the environment continues to dominate.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Croatia has been encouraging its residents to use electric vehicles for ten years now, a move on which it had spent and continues to spend serious money, but despite that, the share of electric cars on Croatian roads is still not ideal - out of 2.2 million registered vehicles, just over a thousand are electric.

Statistics from the Croatian Vehicle Centre (CVH) say that Croatia currently has 1,343 registered e-cars, 1,437 electric motorcycles and 164 e-vans/trucks.

Field preparation

There are several reasons for the above data, from the high cost of such vehicles, their modest autonomy to a relatively poor model of incentives and a general lack of infrastructure. However, the fact is that electric vehicles are the future of mobility and everyone agrees that, in addition to the fact that such a mode of transport can achieve great savings given significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs, electric vehicles will play a major role in reducing emissions and aiding the environment.

This is one of the main goals of the European Union (EU), and in many countries we can see how governments can encourage the purchase of electrified vehicles and invest in the construction of infrastructure for their charging.

The situation is somewhat similar here in Croatia. Potential buyers in our country have been able to get their hands on one of the most generous incentives when buying electric vehicles for years, but the biggest obstacle for a large number of them is the overall lack of infrastructure, which is why this new rule for Croatian new builds could be so important.

There are a significant number of e-vehicle charging stations throughout the Republic of Croatia, but building occupants are not yet able to connect their own electric cars to a home outlet, and most parking spaces don´t have the necessary infrastructure to install such chargers.

As such, back on December the 17th, 2019, the new Construction Act was passed which stipulates that parking spaces in buildings and next to them must have pre-installation for electric car charging, and this law came into force this week, on Wednesday, March the 10th.

This means that all Croatian new builds whose location or construction permit has been or will be requested from March the 10th this year will have to have a pre-installation to install an electric car charger.

As can be read from the law, all Croatian new builds will have to have a retracted charger pre-installation at each parking space located in the building or next to the building, and all other buildings will need to have one pre-installed at one of every five parking spaces.

Hrvoje Prpic, the president of the Strujni krug association, which brings together Croatian owners of e-vehicles, believes that electric vehicles are like mobile phones - they are usually charged up again at night when we aren´t using them.

"If we know that one day all vehicles will become electric, then it´s clear that every parking space and garage will need to become a place to charge them. In this transitional period, we need to make as many preparations as possible for the time which is approaching us,¨ he noted.

The aforementioned association pointed out that these now mandatory installations in the parking spaces of Croatian residential new builds will greatly facilitate the development of infrastructure for electric vehicles, and at the same time their future drivers will find everything much easier.

Given the increase in sales of electric vehicles recorded in Croatia, as well as an even more significant increase in the EU, the age of electric vehicles is already here and, they say, now is the time for the serious preparation of infrastructure.

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Monday, 14 December 2020

Croatian Project Involving 100,000 Chargers for E-Cars Being Prepared

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 13th of December, 2020, the Association of Electric Car Drivers, "Circuit/Strujni krug", has embarked on a Croatian project to install 100,000 chargers for e-cars on light poles along city car parks. It is estimated that this Croatian project could come with a shiny price tag of up to 150 million euros, and they expect that it could be realised over a period of three years.

Electric cars are becoming more and more popular on roads around the world every year, so the global charger infrastructure must be adapted for them. Back in pre-pandemic 2019, 730 fully electric vehicles were registered here in Croatia, and given the recent award of incentives for their purchase, it is expected that this number will increase far above 1000 by the end of this year.

There are already a large number of charging stations for electric cars throughout Croatia, but as the number of vehicles grows, the number of chargers should also be increased in order to make it easier for owners and drivers to use them on a daily basis - that's where this praiseworthy Croatian project comes in,

Hrvoje Prpic, the president of the "Strujni krug" association, explained that the technology of electric vehicles is such that the number of chargers isn't so important for their infrastructure, but their availability really is.

"Currently, there are two chargers for each electric vehicle. The main problem with chargers isn't their number or their charging speed, but the fact that the ‘most elegant’ solution for the comfortable use of electric vehicles is a charger that will recharge their vehicle overnight. It can be a charger in their garage or in an allotted parking space. However, the problem arises when the owner lives in an apartment and doesn't have a dedicated place to charge his or her vehicle,'' explained Prpic.

He added that the plan is to place chargers on light poles located next to public parking spaces across Croatia, which would be slow enough for the vehicle to be left overnight and also be enough to provide all the car needs the next day in those 8-10 hours.

''There will need to be payment for the use of these chargers, but the amount will be very little. The goal is to keep the price of charging for the electricity needed to cover about 100 kilometres below 10 kuna,'' said Prpic, adding that this would require minimal technical upgrades, given that electric vehicle chargers cannot merely be placed the same tariff as public lighting is.

This Croatian project is not just an idea - it has already started to be realised. As they claim from the aforementioned association, they're currently gathering a special working group with all relevant representatives in Croatia. These are five potential operators, two equipment manufacturers and associations that deal with "Smart city" solutions. They say that almost all Croatian producers are included, but others are also invited to join.

"The whole project will cost around 150 million euros and the goal is to use the European fund for recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. If everything goes according to plan, after the realisation of this Croatian project, Croatia would have complete coverage with chargers, all light bulbs would be replaced with LEDs, and all this without a single kuna spent by the Croatian Government. Cities have interesting locations and are ready to put them into proper use in order to further develop their communities and increase the quality of life of their citizens, and it'll cost them almost nothing at all,'' concluded Hrvoje Prpic.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Does Chance for Croatian Automotive Industry Lie with Electric Cars?

November the 11th, 2020 - The words ''Croatian automotive industry'' probably sound funny to anyone remotely familiar with the draconian attitude towards foreign investment here, but shining entrepreneurial stars like Mate Rimac believes that Croatia has a chance, and a good one at that.

As Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes, five years after Uber entered the Croatian market and changed the world of taxi transport, a new initiative to improve transport has emerged, but with far broader implications. Rimac Automobili has announced the establishment of the Association for the Promotion and Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles. They want to bring together and support the work of companies, regulators, cities and everyone else who would participate in the future autonomous vehicle ecosystem.

Mate Rimac, founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili, says that by the year 2030 there will be a bigger change in the automotive industry than we've seen in the last hundred years. In September alone, more electric cars than diesel cars were sold in Europe for the first time.

"Many think that the big change in the car industry is electrification, but when you add vehicle networking and autonomous driving into the mix, our attitude towards car production and use will become very different. In the next five to ten years, autonomous vehicles will change everything, and we want Croatia to recognise that and seize the opportunity," Rimac said.

He stated that Croatia missed out on two large investments, so this is its "third time lucky" chance to build a Croatian automotive industry.

R&D centres

According to the data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), only 2,861 people work in the Croatian car industry, and according to the CBS, that number is growing to about 10,000. It accounts for only 1.1 percent of total production in Croatia and 4.7 percent of Croatia's exports. Namely, companies in this sector export more than 90 percent of their production, regardless of whether it is research and development (R&D), software or goods.

It is the investments of the automotive industry in research and development that are growing the most and they are changing the image of the future automotive industry and the autonomous transport industry in general, both in the world and right here in Croatia, expanding it beyond already well-known players such as AD Plastik.

Two years ago, the German company dSPACE opened its R&D centre for the automotive industry in Zagreb, and this year Porsche did the same in cooperation with the Croatian company Infinum. Porsche is also present in Varazdin with a development centre for its company Cetitech.

Here in Croatia, the Austrian AVL and the German Atron also have an R&D centre. Work on autonomous vehicles and robots for industry in this country is also done by, among others, DOK-ING, Gideon Brothers and Inetec.

In the field of cyber security, companies such as Reversing Labs are present, navigation is dealt with by Mireo and OptimoRoute, and the hardware for such vehicles is produced by Xylon. Startups such as AIR-RMLD and Hipersphere and King ICT work with autonomous drones in Croatia, too.

We haven't yet found any examples of robotic ships in Croatia, but the Viktor Lenac shipyard does engage the work of robots to rebuild ships. In addition, Rimac is not the only one in Croatia that produces vehicles. Hittner and Rasco, among others, are also involved in the Croatian automotive industry, however small it currently is.

While some entrepreneurs have already recognised the new opportunities which shine within the Croatian automotive industry, Rimac also looked at deadlines. Autonomous drones already exist in the aviation industry. Autonomous ocean-going ships are expected to become a reality by around 2035, and Mate Rimac expects autonomous vehicles to arrive around 2030.

The Hungarians are in the lead

"Back in 2015, cars weren't autonomous at all, today they are at their second level and by 2030, vehicles will be 80 percent autonomous and therefore networked and shared. In the era of autonomous vehicles, the car will no longer sit in a car park and only actually be in operation for four percent of the time, instead, it will be used 70 percent of the time and cover more than 250,000 miles a year.

This raises many questions because in such a world no more traffic police are needed, the business model for airports must be changed because parking brings them 40 percent of their revenue, and the question arises who will own the vehicle because one robotic taxi will replace 20 traditional vehicles,'' explained Rimac.

The EU warns of a similar thing with its regulatory tsunami. In two months, from January 2021, the first regulation of smart, robotic or, more simply, self-driving cars will come into force in Croatia and across the rest of the EU.

According to them, vehicles will have to have a black box, much like planes do, and the rules of application of the system for automatic lane monitoring will be defined. One year later, an EU regulation will come into force, which will expand the set of rules that manufacturers will have to comply with and which will automatically be applied in Croatia as well.

In neighbouring Hungary, which might come as a shock to some, such projects have been being implemented for three years now.

Sven Loncaric, head of the FER Centre for Artificial Intelligence, agrees with Rimac that statistically, driving autonomous vehicles proves safer than human driving does, although there have also been issues during testing which need to be resolved.

Davor Kovacec, the founder and director of the Croatian company Xylon, which develops hardware for self-driving cars, says that there are many business opportunities in this segment and the development of the Croatian automotive industry and that they also cooperate with some companies in Croatia, although most of their clients are from abroad.

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