Liikenneministeri Merja Kyllönen Fortumin sähköautojen pikalatausasemien testikentän avajaisissa Espoossa 1.9.2011

Liikenneministeri Merja Kyllönen Fortumin sähköautojen pikalatausasemien testikentän avajaisissa Espoossa 1.9.2011

Electric vehicles in Finland

Ladies and gentlemen, dear international friends and members of the electric vehicle community,

I have arrived here today with very excited mind. It is always of great interest to get to see and experience something new while knowing that there is only a limited number of people that have had the same opportunity.

Today here at the Fortum premises, we will be given a chance to see the future of mobility already today. We, politicians, usually draw scenarios and write political statements about issues that need to be stressed out in the future, but today we see, that the future is truly here.

What comes to writing papers, we truly have had a busy year: During the previous months, we have managed to get into an agreement of the Government Programme of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen's Government. In which we have stated that the government will support measures towards clean vehicle technology. During the spring we also have been preparing the white paper of transport aiming for an energy efficient EU-wide transport system. The white paper is the answer of transport sector for the commission roadmap towards competitive low-carbon economy in 2050 that was finalised in March. With these papers the European Commission is looking beyond the objectives of 2020 and is setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments.

The white paper sets Ten Goals for a competitive and resource efficient transport system including benchmarks for achieving the 60% green-house-gas emission reduction target. Policy options include requirement to halve the use of 'conventionally-fuelled' cars in urban transport by 2030 and phase
them out in cities by 2050. This means also, that we need to achieve essentially CO2-free city logistics in major urban centres by 2030.

The white paper as such is not legally binding. But it is a critical refreshment to our minds, that the objectives for the future require radical changes to technology, awareness and motivation. Some think the Commission goal of reducing carbon dioxide by 60 percent is challenging. Well, in Finland we have drawn our national scenarios for the future even further, and we aim for a 85 to 90 percent reduction on the average carbon dioxide emissions of future cars.

I have now been talking mostly about the future. However, the true arrival of electric vehicles, the EV's, has most probably now begun. We have many models of electric cars available in the stores and we have one million charging outlets ready to be used in Finnish homes and offices. The preheating of cars during winter is something that we share with our Swedish neighbours and with this we are ahead of the rest of the Europe with our infrastructure.

In order to keep this technological advantage, we of course need to be moving forward all the time. The true evolution of electric cars requires that we will find solutions to all of the remaining practical questions of a potential EV-owner: how will I get to my summer cottage?, How should I charge if I don't have a charging outlet in my apartment or I park my car in the street? What if I need my electric car during the day and can't wait for seven hours to reload it? Finding an answer to all of these questions is needed in order to convince the public of this new technology. Only after then, are they ready to make the investment and buy an EV. And then we will start seeing the future changing.

It has been reclaimed, that we in Finland do not give any benefits for EVs. On the contrary, the current tax system in fact favours EVs and EVs are given benefits with regard to purchase tax, annual tax and energy tax. Examined over a 10-year period, there will be 4,000 euros less taxes levied from an EV compared to a car with traditional combustion engine. The advantage of the tax benefits is, in fact, comparable in size to the financial incentives provided for EVs in other countries. Even after the tax benefits, EVs remain expensive due to the high cost of batteries, but in Finland the tax system is technology neutral and the new government has agreed to follow this principle also in the future decisions. So as soon as the price of batteries starts getting cheaper through higher market penetration, the economical benefits of electric cars in daily use, start to be revealed.

A lot other things still needs to be done in order to be ready for the arrival of EVs. The Ministry of Transport and Communications ordered a report to facilitate the future work. The report was finalized in April and it underlined that there is a true cause for preparations to begin for the arrival of EVs immediately.

The testing of electric vehicles in cold climate is one of the priorities in the conclusions of the report. With regard to fast charging, the report outlined that it is too early to provide guidelines because standardisation and technological solutions are still partly undecided. As I see this, there is still enough time to get the results of these demonstrations to be taken into consideration in the standards. Also charging of EVs in an intelligent way, is something, in which we will have more knowledge to share.

The report also claimed for feedback and references from EVs and EV-related systems as soon as possible. This information is essential for companies that have a business interest in electric cars and different systems facilitating the use of EVs. The undergoing demonstrations and the" Charge and Drive" concept of Fortum with it's partners, is something we politicians welcome and it is also supported by many policy measures.

We can therefore conclude that you are moving on the right road. I must also encourage all of you that have worked in this project, and also especially in the project ERA, that you have shown a way ahead, which is the right road towards the future, and towards the carbon free transport system.