Diesel auto technology fading as focus turns to electric cars

The global automotive industry faces the challenge of moving on from the fossil fuels era to electric cars, despite the existence of various hurdles. At the same time, diesel is beginning to lose its competitive edge over gasoline, prompting auto industries to declare their disengagement from investments concerning the further development of diesel-fueled vehicles.

In Greece, diesel fuel, as an auto energy choice, made a delayed entry into the market. Its wider use in major cities here was only permited five years ago. Two years later, in 2013, diesel-powered vehicle sales captured first place in the Greek market. Diesel was lower-priced, offered greater mileage and less emissions. This was good news for drivers in recession-struck Greece.

In response, car makers of models running on gasoline took measures to significantly reduce consumption levels by focusing on the development of smaller engines combined with the adoption of turbo technology. Lower fuel consumption levels in this auto category have virtually wiped out the advantage enjoyed by diesel cars in recent years.

Though diesel vehicle models emit less greenhouse gases, the nitrogen oxides they release are more hazardous for human health. Or, as put by British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson, diesel cars are good news for polar bears but bad news for the health of people living in cities.

The European Commision has set specific limits for such emissions and is expected to follow up with new, even stricter limits next spring.

A recent study showed that many car producers have been providing false information on the nitrogen oxide emission levels of their car models. In some cases, emissions were as much as fifteen times over the limit. The recent VW diesel emissions cover-up scandal, just the tip of the iceberg, as things have turned out, has also affected the public’s perception of diesel technology.

VW has sought to rectify its corporate image by announcing major investment plans for the development of new eco-friendly vehicles. Though the move has been widely received as a mere PR gimmick, there must be some truth in it if the amount of money being spent by the German car producer on new models is taken into account. VW’s product range objective includes 30 electric car models by 2025.

Without a doubt, this reflects a wider auto industry trend. Car producers are now discouraged to invest in cleaner diesel technology as they concurrently face the challenge of adapting to electric cars, viewed as the industry’s future. Auto makers believe they cannot take on three fronts at once and, as a result, are opting to focus on gasoline and electric car technology.

There is a long way to go in the development of electric car technology, still at an embryonic stage. The high cost of electric car models and, to a lesser extent, the lack of refueling station infrastructure, especially in countries such as Greece, where drivers generally do not posses private garages, act as deterrents. On the other hand, some technological progress has been made, allowing electric cars to run for about 300 kilometers based on a single charge. Also, the battery recharging time needed is now far swifter.

Electric car producers and governments around the world anticipate this developing technology will make electric cars far more affordable for drivers between 2020 and 2025, making them competitive against conventional models.

Wider Athens prefecture to install 30 electric car stations

The wider Athens prefecture plans to install thirty electric car recharging stations at selected public spaces as part of a drive to promote the use of eco-friendly fuels on roads and contribute to the fight against climate change.

The plan will be launched in the wider Athens area’s north as a pilot program.

“Our intention is to increase the use of eco-friendly vehicles for transportation needs within the wider Athens area and remove technical barriers acting as a deterrent,” noted Giorgos Karameros, the Athens prefecture’s head official for the northern zone. “Many fellow citizens as well as tourists choose eco-friendly cars for transportation but are unable to find recharging stations. As a prefectural authority, we are overcoming this by proceeding with the installation of 30 stations at selected areas of our responsibility, such as public parks and state-run car roadworthy inspection centers,” the official added.

Karameros called on public and private sector players to join the initiative for partnerships supporting the use of electric cars as a “tool to fight against the adverse effects of climate change.”

Unchanged ‘disruption’ plan, temporary CAT model signed

Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis signed ministerial decisions on Friday for the adoption of a “disruption management” plan – to enable energy cost savings for major-scale industry in exchange for shifting energy usage to off-peak hours whenever required by IPTO, the power grid operator – as well as a new CAT mechanism, according to energypress sources.

The “disruption management” plan will be implemented without changes to an older format that had been prepared by the pre-Syriza coalition, despite efforts for revisions by Skourletis and his team during negotiations with the country’s creditor representatives, the sources informed.

This means that all photovoltaic system producers, except for the household sub-category, will contribute 3.6 percent of their total turnover to the “disruption management” plan, wind-energy facility operators will contribute 1.8 percent of turnover, and small-scale hydropower stations 0.8 percent of turnover. This plan had been endorsed by the European Commission during the pre-Syriza coalition’s tenure.

The planned contributions to the “disruption management” plan by renewable energy source (RES) producers have  been the cause of protest by the sector, which has contended it is being burdened to support the industrial sector.

Based on the aforementioned percentage figures, a total of about 48 million euros will be raised annually for the “disruption management” plan, although it is believed that no more than 30 million euros is required.

RES sector producers have suggested they should register to fund the plan but only contribute amounts gradually, based on real needs.

As for the new CAT mechanism, the energy ministry and creditor representatives agreed to implement a temporary mechanism until the end of 2016 as there is insufficient time to make required revisions to the wholesale market for the introduction of a permanent model.

Independent RES producers will not receive any CAT-related payments for production in 2015 as a result of the European Commission’s prohibition of retroactive payments through the temporary CAT plan.



Preoccupied ministry delaying electric car market progress

The local effort to promote electric cars in the Greek market has slown down as a result of bureaucratic complications and the Finance Ministry’s focus on negotiations with the country’s creditors following last January’s snap elections.

Over the past few months, importing activity of electric cars has grinded to a halt as sector traders await a Finance Ministry decision determining the types of models to be considered electric cars, which, subsequently, would exempt them from a hefty luxury goods tax.

At present, only B.E.V. (Battery Electric Vehicles) type models are classified as  electric vehicles by the ministry. As a result, P.H.E.V. (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Cars) and E.R.E.V. (Extended Range Electric Vehicles) have been left out of the category and, consequently, are subject to the luxury goods tax. The tax adds between 10,000 euros and 20,000 euros to the market price of each vehicle.

Lawmakers have agreed that the aforementioned categories will need to be exempted from the luxury goods tax to spur growth in this new market, currently trapped amid the doldrums as a result of slow bureaucratic progress, despite an objective set by PPC, the power utility, to play an active role in the sector, and the intention of auto manufacturers to supply electric cars to the Greek market.

Greek-German chamber calls for revised RES plan to boost investment

The Greek-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce has called for Greece’s renewable energy sources policy (RES) plan to be reworked through public consultation procedures involving the participation of the State and all parties with interests in the sctor as a means of reinvigorating investor interest and drawing new capital to the sector.

Greece’s energy market was the focus of attention at the latest meeting held by the chamber’s RES committee, during which the subject matter included discussions on the RES sector’s objectives for 2030, the country’s new legal framework for net metering and the photovoltaics sector, as well as topics concerning the emerging electric auto industry.

The country’s plan for net metering, whose legal framework was recently ratified, appears set to deliver constructive changes to the sector for enterprises interested in investing. Net metering will enable electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period.

As for the nascent electric auto industry, a special committee comprised of State and market officials has been established, following a ministerial decision, with the objective of developing and implementing needed infrastructure to promote the use of electric vehicles in Greece.

Although this emerging industry is developing rapidly at an international level, progress has been far slower in Greece. The establishment of domestic legal framework has lagged behind.

Participants at the recent Greek-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce meeting on RES issues included representatives of the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES); the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO); the Greek Wind Energy Association (ELETAEN); legal officials of a law firm specializing in RES matters; the chamber’s general director, Dr. Athanasios Kelemis; as well as the chamber’s RES committee president and board member, Emmanouil Kastanakis.



Emmissions-free vehicle study results presented

The successful results of research work conducted by a local team on emission-free hybrid transportation technology were presented at a recent workshop in Athens.

Entitled “Development and Trial Operation of an Innovative, Emmissions-free Hybrid Transportation Vehicle”, the research work, backed by EU funding programs, was conducted by a team of researchers from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO), Miltech Hellas – active in the field of high technology electronic systems, telecommunication accessories, aircraft harnesses and other special purpose electronics applications – green technologies company Tropical SA, and consulting firm Opus SA.

The study’s results were applied to a converted conventional mini bus and presented at the event.

Also at the event, Hellenic Institute of Electric Vehicles (HELIEV) – ELINHO locally – president Giorgos Ageridis presented details of research conducted on the potential of electric vehicles in the Greek market.

Emerging electric vehicle sector can create 7,000 jobs, minister tells

Greece has the potential to become a pioneering force in the emerging electric vehicle sector, while the objective is for this new industry to create 7,000 new jobs in the country, Environment, Energy & Climate Change Yiannis Maniatis told a conference in Athens today, organized by the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES), locally known as KAPE.

The minister noted that it was of crucial importance for Greece to establish a new production model “based on innovation, productivity, the creation of new jobs, which, of course, is supported by environmentally friendly investment.”

Maniatis went on to say that the electric vehicle sector held a place at the core of this new production model, while adding that a pan-European effort was being made to introduce electric transportation as widely as possible for the continent’s citizens.

Based on current estimates, the sector will create 700,000 new jobs in Europe over the next ten years, Maniatis said.

As for Greece, Maniatis noted that a legislative amendment was made several months ago to facilitate the development of recharging stations as a step towards making the wider use of electric vehicles a reality.

“We possess the required political will, knowhow at universities and research institutes, and innovative enterprises,” Maniatis said. “We also face a major challenge, a major universal challenge [requiring] all of us to fight against climate change,” he continued, while also expressing confidence that Greece can play a key role in the sector’s European development.

PPC’s 15-station recharging network nears completion

A network of fifteen recharging stations for electric vehicles being developed by PPC, the Public Power Corporation, as part of “Green e Motion”, a European initiative aiming to promote the emerging electric car market, is approaching completion.

At present, four recharging stations are already operating at four key energy-sector points in Athens, PPC’s main headquarters; the Environment, Energy & Climate Change Ministry; HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator – locally referred to as DEDDIE – and the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) building, while a further six stations are also operating in the provincial city of Kozani, northern Greece.

For the time being, the network of fifteen PPC stations will serve fifteen electric vehicles purchased by PPC from BMW and Daimler as part of a pilot program, while, in the future, the stations may also be used by electric vehicle owners.

Green e Motion, a four-year program held as part of a European campaign titled European Green Cars Initiative (EGCI), aiming to support research and development for eco-friendly vehicle transportation, concludes at the end of February, 2015.

Once completed, Green e Motion’s 43 participants – industrial companies, electricity production companies, electric vehicle manufacturers, universities, and research centers – will forward their findings to the European Commission, which, in turn, will use the accumulated information for future decisions regarding the electric vehicle sector’s further development.

The fast-growing electric vehicle market is creating business opportunities in electricity supply, development of “smart” high-tech recharging networks, as well as greater renewable energy source (RES) utilization, as was pointed out at a PPC conference organized last September. Highlighting the interest in this growing market, major European electricity suppliers, such as the German companies Siemens and Bosch, Italy’s Enel, Spain’s Endesa, Ireland’s ESB, and local ventures Elpedison and Fortisis, took part in the conference.








Numerous firms examining electric car market prospects

Besides PPC, the Public Power Corporation, a number of other companies, such as the privately run electricity suppliers Elpedison and Terna, as well as various local municipalities, including those of Athens, Thessaloniki, Lamia, Larisa, and Katerini, are all believed to be examining the prospects of Greece’s nascent electric car market.

This was made clear at a PPC event staged in Athens this week, as part of the European Union’s “Green eMotion” promotional program for electric vehicles.

A number of firms from abroad participated, including Germany’s Siemens and Bosch, Italy’s Enel, Spain’s Endesa, Ireland’s ESB, while Greek companies included EKO and Fortisis.

Besides a number of recharging stations being developed by PPC, a further eleven, all installed by Fortisis, are already operating. Seven of these stations have been installed at parking chain Polis Park stations, while the other four are located at the “Eleftherios Venizelos” Athens International Airport’s Metropolitan Expo Center. An additional fifteen to twenty recharging stations are believed to be on the way.

The head official at the Hellenic Institute of Electric Vehicles, HELIEV, or ELINHO, locally, Giorgos Ageridis, who estimated that between 25 and 30 electric cars are currently being used in Greece, said they were being driven by public utilities, municipalities, agencies, and private owners. For the time being, most of these models are charged at home garages. The number of electric cars is expected to gradually snowball as promotion of the new concept broadens and intensifies and more recharging stations begin operating. Legislation was approved earlier this year to permit the installation of recharging stations at petrol stations, car repair shops, as well as roadworthy certificate stations (KTEO). The number of recharging stations is expected to proliferate once the Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change makes clear the prerequisites for recharging station permits. This may occur by the end of this month.

Ageridis, the HELIEV chief, told energypress that Greece’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks still needed to inform the Finance Ministry of the type of vehicles it intended to officially brand as being electric. Three sub-categories have been established abroad – battery operated cars, hybrid models charged via power sockets, and models equipped with thermal engines that charge batteries.

The lofty retail prices of electric cars stand as another obstacle for this new market’s development. At present, prices range between 22,000 euros and 58,000 euros.

The Green eMotion program aims to develop a roaming-type system, through which electric car owners will be able to recharge at any stations, including abroad, using prepaid cards to cover their transactions.

“A driver with a PPC deal, for example, who is traveling in Italy would be able to recharge at an Italian recharging station with the same prepaid card [used at home],” noted Valy Lioliou, PPC’s head official for the Green eMotion program.

Greece is not the only European country whose electric car market remains at a nascent stage. Major European auto industries have invested heavily in fuel-powered engines in recent years. Progress in the emergence of electric cars has even been slow in Germany, a traditional powerhouse in Europe’s car industry. Just a few hundred recharging stations operate in Germany, while the overall figure for Europe is estimated to exceed 2,500.



Electric car market to spur growth, officials agree

The anticipated development of Greece’s electric car market in the near future promises to spur economic growth, officials underlined at an international conference in Athens yesterday, organized by PPC, the Public Power Corporation.

“The use of electric vehicles can serve as a lever of economic growth and mobilize significant amounts of investment capital,” Arthuros Zervos, the CEO at PPC, told the conference.

Zervos also noted that PPC was planning to install fifteen vehicle charging stations, eight of these in Kozani, northern Greece, and seven in Athens. The corporation was also preparing to hire 15 electric vehicles, on leasing deals, equipped to record energy consumption and performance details.

This data, according to the PPC head, would serve to assist sector officials when the time arrives for national strategy decisions to be made on infrastructure for the future electric vehicles market. At present, just 47 electric cars are reportedly being used in Athens.

The PPC head also noted that collaborations could be established between the electric car market and renewable energy source (RES) producers. Development of the electric car market could contribute to further RES penetration of the energy market, Zervos remarked.

Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis told the conference that electric cars would create a new market. He referred to a European Union study that estimates a total of 700,000 new jobs would be created over the next ten years, 7,000 of these in Greece. Maniatis said he hoped Greece would play an active role amid this developing scene.

According to PPC figures, the cost of running electric cars is estimated at one euro per 100 kilometers, or over ten times cheaper than the energy demands of conventional fuel-powered cars. Current models can cover between 150 and 200 kilometers before requiring a battery recharge, a process that can take about 30 minutes, if using a specialized recharging unit, and as much as ten hours if using a regular domestic power socket.


PPC, DEPA see growth prospects in new-era vehicles

As the prospect of vehicles running on alternative power sources draws closer to becoming a widespread practice, PPC, the Public Power Corporation, and DEPA, the Public Gas Company, are both focusing their efforts on electricity and gas-powered vehicles as a new source for revenues.

This year alone, gas-powered car registrations have reached 108, compared to just 26 last year. Five refueling stations, providing compressed natural gas, or CNG, all run by the Fisikon company, now operate in Athens and Thessaloniki. A further two stations are expected to soon be launched in Volos and Thessaloniki.

Signs of progress are also evident in the electric cars category. PPC, for example, will set up a recharging station, for demonstrative purposes, at this year’s Thessaloniki International Trade Fair. Two electric cars will be used as part of the presentation.

PPC plans to launch its first real recharging stations by December. It intends to begin with 15 stations.

At present, the number of electric cars being used throughout Greece total a mere 25. An additional 15 electric cars ordered by PPC, from BMW and Daimler, will bring this tally up to 40. The number is expected to begin precipitating as promotion of the new concept spreads, additional new recharging stations are launched, and a greater number of companies become interested.

Following in the steps of PPC, a number of fast-delivery companies are currently examining the prospect of electric cars as well as electric scooters.

Later this month, on September 24, PPC will host Green eMotion, an EU-subsidized  conference to focus on alternative transportation.

In Greece, the idea of CNG-powered vehicles has progressed far more than electric cars. Some 600 buses are already running on the gas. More recently, an increasing number of taxis are also turning to CNG as their choice of power.

European studies forecast that 12.7 percent of buses will be gas-powered by 2018, throughout the continent. Greece has already established one of Europe’s highest percentages of gas-powered buses.

At present, FIAT, GM, Mercedes, and PSA are leading the way in vehicles constructed specifically for CNG usage. Sales of such models at these firms increased six-fold between 2008 and 2013.

PPC leading the way towards wider use of electric cars

Following many years of slow moving, the concept of electric cars is gradually making its way into the Greek market. A legal revision made by the Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change earlier this month that exempts charging infrastructure operators from requiring electricity supply licenses, instead classifying them as final consumers who hold the right to resell electricity as a charging service, has helped speed up the process.

The lack of a fully developed legal framework has delayed progress amid this highly promising sector. The latest legal revision was preceded by another made earlier this year, enabling the installation of charging stations at convenient spots such as petrol stations and parking facilities.

Besides the legal framework issues, the sector’s progress has also been hindered by higher market prices of electric vehicles in Greece.

PPC, the Public Power Corporation, ranks as an early domestic mover. The firm expects to soon receive 15 electric vehicles ordered from two car producers, BMW and Daimler, possibly within the current week. A number of other local companies offering fast-delivery and distribution services are currently examining electric vehicles, including scooters, as an option.

Still at an embryonic stage in Greece, the market of fully electric cars numbers between 20 to 25 vehicles at present, not including the 15 cars ordered by PPC.

The corporation is responsible, in Greece, for Green eMotion, an EU-subsidized program promoting the concept of electric vehicles in the local market. Launched in March, 2011, the four-year program expires next March. Prior to that, the campaign’s results and the nascent sector’s overall development in Greece will be examined at a conference scheduled to take place in Athens on September 24. PPC will also offer an update on the progress made at the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair, September 6 to 14.


Business opportunities created by electric vehicle market

Electric vehicles and the new entrepreneurial opportunities being created by their market penetration, was the topic of discussion at a one-day seminar staged in Athens.  

“Many potential applications of electric vehicles exist in Greece,” noted Mr. Giorgos Ageridis, president of ELINHO, the Greek Institute of Electric Vehicles. Cities and islands provided the greatest amount of opportunities, he added.

Entrepreneurial opportunities were also opening up in fields such as computer technology, telematics, telecommunications, and automation, according to Mr. Sotiris Kapellos, president of the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, or SEF.

The requirement of incentives that would encourage and simplify the use of electrical vehicles was the issue raised by Mr. Fokion Deligiannis, the Businesses and Industries Association’s head of the Infrastructure and Entrepreneurial Environment division. Incentives that could apply, he suggested, included exemption from registration fees and a wealth-indicator system applied by Greek tax authorities that takes into account vehicle ownership, as well as free parking at local government parking facilities, in conjunction with local councils. Contrary to financial incentives, such incentives would promote balanced, overall development, Mr. Deligiannis stressed.

The supply and sale of electricity, as well as the provision of licenses to supply and sell electricity, as stipulated in an amendment to law 4001/20111 drafted by the  Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAE, was analyzed by Mr. Evangelos Dialynas, a RAE board member. The possibility of network problems, due to factors such as an   over-accumulation of charging stations, was also discussed. It was pointed out that inspections by the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, DEDDIE, were necessary, as was the implementation of development policies and determination of areas where infrastructure could be created. As things stand, the country’s electricity supply is guaranteed until 2020. The drop in demand amid the recession of the past few years has eased the pressure.