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Electric cars emerge in Russia’s oil-fueled economy

Eco-friendly cars are still not popular with Russians, due to their high price, the lack of charging stations and insufficient state support. RBTH attempts to find out if electric cars are needed at all in the capital city of a state with the world’s second largest oil industry.

According to the newspaper Kommersant, on July 22 the Russian postal monopoly Pochta Rossii turned down a contract with the auto group Renault to rent 12 electric cars. This contract, worth 15.9 million rubles ($490,700) was agreed upon prior to a recent change of leadership in the company, and it was later reviewed.

Whereas, at first, Pochta Rossii wanted to purchase 100 electric cars immediately to serve the Sochi Olympics, it became clear after company assessments that the cars would never pay for themselves.

Nevertheless, eco-friendly cars are growing in popularity in Russia — albeit at a far from impressive rate. The first electric car rally took place in Moscow on July 14, and 20 electric cars took part.
First Russian-made hybrid car, ‘Yo-Mobile,’ unveiled in Moscow

Photo of the day: First Russian-made hybrid car, ‘Yo-Mobile,’ unveiled in Moscow

The cars, which were powered by electricity instead of gasoline, traveled from the Krasniy Oktyabr center — popular with Moscow’s sophisticated party goers on Bersenev Embankment — to Gorchakova Park in an area southwest of Moscow that recently was incorporated into the city.

Vasiliy Panavits, a representative of one of the organizers of the Ekomotors rally, says his company has been trying to promote the idea of using electric transportation in Russia for the past five years.

In his opinion, the main issue has been the lack of support from the state: “Let’s say the television tells us we will all travel in electric cars, that we can sit behind the wheel of one of these cars ourselves. The tax needs to come off too, and the prices will come down by 30-40 percent, straight away.”

The rally in Moscow featured cars such as the Estrima Biro, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, among others. Spectators could observe how the cars were charged up before the start of the rally, sit behind the wheel and talk to the owners.

Everyone was concerned with the price, first and foremost, which far exceeds the cost of a gasoline-powered car that is similar in terms of size and functionality.
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