‘Electric vehicles can already be seen on our roads’

The number of electric cars registered in Russia has exceeded 10,000

Russia’s 44-million passenger car fleet counts only 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs). Although the country currently accounts for just a tiny fraction of the global EV market, analysts consider that we can see the new reality in a couple of decades.

While the actual number of electric vehicles on Russian roads is still small, the consistent annual swell in their ownership is remarkable, says Bellona. By the end of 2020, the number of EVs registered in Russia reached 10,836, which meant an increase of 71% compared to the previous year. “This is a more or less significant figure, electric vehicles can already be seen on our roads,” commented Director of Autostat analytics agency Sergey Tselikov. As for the number of charging stations, various experts and organisations estimate the figure at 600-1,000.

Tesla accounted for almost a third of 687 new electric cars sold in Russia in 2020. Half of the new electric vehicles were registered within European Russia with Moscow holding the leadership (240 new cars). Sales figures for used cars were more impressive. In 2020, 5,237 of those were sold throughout the country representing a 60% increase over the previous year. The majority (93%) of those cars were Nissan Leafs, mostly right-hand drive vehicles imported to Russia’s Far East from Japan. According to Tselikov, people choose this model because of its “interesting price”. “It’s worth noting that countrywide electrification is coming not from the West but from the East,” he added. The expert expects the market to continue growing at a rate of one to one and a half times annually.

Yury Sergeyev, a senior advisor with Bellona’s office in Murmansk, admits that electric cars still remain inaccessible to a typical Russian consumer, which emboldens sceptics. However, he insists that the time for electric cars in Russia is getting ripe. “I am confident that the 2030s will be a turning point in the automotive industry, and we all need to prepare for the new reality now,” he says.

Globally, the number of automakers who have announced plans to go all-electric grows along with the list of countries planning to ban the sale of emissions-producing vehicles within the next two decades. The Russian government has also announced certain measures intended to promote electric cars, such as a temporary elimination of import taxes on electric vehicles, which will last through this year. Though these measures are rather modest compared to Scandinavia and most other European countries, they are yet favourable for the future of EVs in Russia.

Meanwhile, the model range of electric vehicles officially available on the Russian market almost doubled by the end of 2020 and reached 18 different models from 12 manufacturers. While the selection is still small, automakers plan to boost those numbers further.

By Anna Litvina

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