Russia ponders using EV subsidies to boost the economy and surge local manufacturing

Russia’s Economy Ministry said earlier today that it has plans to utilize subsidy programs to boost the manufacturing and purchase of locally-built electric vehicles. The program could stimulate the economy and provide a surge to local manufacturing efforts, despite being a region that has long supported and depended on oil and gas.

Just 11,000 of the over 45 million vehicles driven in Russia last year were electric, with most being used cars. However, Russia plans to expand the potential market share of electric vehicles by introducing state-sponsored subsidy programs that could offer consumers tasty incentive packages to drive sustainable vehicles.

As EVs are currently more expensive than their combustion engine counterparts, Russian Department Head at the Economic Ministry Maxim Kolesnikov said that the subsidies would aim to make electric vehicles more affordable if they are manufactured locally. Kolesnikov told Reuters that the government could cover 25% of the total purchase price of an electric vehicle, up to $8,570 or 625,000 roubles. The incentive program could start as early as 2022.

Russia aims to cut emissions by 70% of their 1990 levels by 2030. Additionally, the country expects to produce 220,000 electric vehicles by 2030, and foreign automotive companies have reportedly expressed some interest in establishing assembly lines in the country to produce cars locally. The influx of foreign automakers attempting to break into the Russian market will help the country attain its lofty climate goals as a part of the Paris Agreement.

Interestingly, Europe and Asia, both continents heavily associated with Russia due to the country’s massive size, have adopted widespread electric vehicle use in the past several years. China, the world’s largest automotive market, has continued to increase its EV market share through a domestic warzone between automotive manufacturers aiming to be number one. Tesla, Volkswagen Xpeng, Wuling, Li Auto, and others spar with one another to control the country. Wuling and Tesla share the domination since Elon Musk’s company entered the market in early 2020.

Europe is no different. Domestic automakers like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Kia, Renault, and others continue to battle Tesla for the top spot in their region.

It is currently unknown which automakers plan to extend a possible production factory in Russia. Tesla has pondered the idea in the past, and politicians have extended invitations to the automaker. In May, Vladislav Shapsha, the head of the Kaluga region, told Elon Musk that the area is “fully prepared” for a potential Tesla factory after Musk said that the company’s entry into Russia was imminent. Several other political figures, including Andrei Vorobyov, Governor of Moscow, and Alexander Brechalov, the head of the Udmurt Republic, also made attempts to woo Musk’s company to Russia.

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