Switched on: Urban E-mobility Forum 2019, Gdynia

E-mobility experts, policymakers and industry leaders joined forces in Gdynia for the inaugural Urban E-mobility Forum to map out a path for urban e-mobility in Poland and the region. 

The road might be incomplete, but based on the constructive dialogue, the ideas shared and the great work forged by Polish cities, a clean and productive urban future may not be all that far away.

“We are at the start of a new era and it is a revolution,” summed up Daphne Bergsma, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “The most striking illustration of this might surprise you … The latest news is that 007 will be driving an electric car. He is sticking with his famous Aston Martin, but he’s exchanging it for the Rapide E. So James Bond still has a license to kill, but no longer a license to spill.”

This successful meeting of minds was only made possible by the hard work of co-organisers Poland Today and the Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (Fundacja Promocji Pojazdów Elektrycznych), event host Gdynia, along with all the partners and patrons, who together are investing in the green shift and leading the fight against climate change. Many thanks to:

Partners: the City of Gdynia, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Poland, Fortum, Rafako E-Bus, Volvo Group Poland, Solaris Bus & Coach S.A, Peugeot, Allego and J.C. Bamford Excavators.

Patrons: the European Commission, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Ministry of Investment and Economic Development, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, the Centre for EU Transport Projects, Hydrogen Europe, Kongres Obywatelski

Over two days, through keynote speeches, case studies, panels and roundtable sessions, a holistic picture was formed around the topic, covering everything from legislation, investment models, transport emission targets to smart charging infrastructure, e-bus technology, e-vehicles and urban design. 

Here is what the experts had to say:

There is no modern city on the planet which doesn’t want to encourage residents to use public transport to a greater extent. There also isn’t a modern city which doesn’t aim to protect the environment. This is also true of Gdynia. The word ‘electromobility’ in Gdynia has a specific, friendly image. It is imprinted on the mind of every resident.

– Wojciech Szczurek, Mayor of Gdynia

Innovating and moving forward on e-mobility is a process of trial and error. We learned from our mistakes, and we want to share that experience with Polish partners so that you will not make the same mistakes we did. We have learned, for example, that our ambitions can only be realised through an integrated, synchronised approach involving governmental institutions, energy companies, the automotive sector and the IT sector.

-Daphne Bergsma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

E-mobility doesn’t have to just be about getting you from point A to point B. The “e” in e-mobility should stand for entrepreneurship as much as electric.

-Peter Vesterbacka, Finnish visionary, entrepreneur and investor

Amsterdam is on the road to 100% emission free bus transport. Transport Authority Amsterdam announced that by 2025 all new buses will be emission free. By 2030, this will apply to all buses and buses will be charged with electricity from 100% renewable energy sources.

-Gerard Hellburg, Program manager, Zero Emission Mobility (Amsterdam)

Peugeot’s new 100%-electric e-208 hatch was on show at the forum. The 100 kW (136 HP) e-208 will not only get you 340km on a single charge and 0-100 km/h in 8.1s, but at the starting price of 124 900 zł, consumers and local government in Poland will have the opportunity to claim government subsidies under the Ministry of Energy’s Low-emission Transport Fund ‒  €8,600 for private purchases and €36,000 for public administration.

In Poland, some say that charging infrastructure investment is too expensive, but there can be a business opportunity to install those chargers. Instead of waiting for car manufacturers to produce more electric models, charging infrastructure must be available because then it all happens very fast. It’s sort of a chicken and egg situation where you have the charging infrastructure, then the motor vehicles.

-Matias Ahlblad, International Sales Manager, Fortum

E-mobility should not just be for the rich but for all. With government subsidies and economies of scale, the entry-level price will drop and the uptake will increase, just as long as the right infrastructure is in place.

-Paweł Wideł, Public Affairs and Government Relations Director, Groupe PSA

In many cases, especially for smaller cities, there isn’t just an issue of money, but there’s an issue of knowledge and expertise, and it can be scary to start deploying new technology.

-Dario Dubolino, Directorate-General for Transport and Mobility, European Commission

60% of people in Poland living in cities do not own a parking spot, so they do not have the possibility for home charging. But they all, at one time or another, go to the shopping centre, for example. Therefore, we need to rethink where charging infrastructure should be implemented.

-Erik Koppe, Project Manager at the MEGA-E project (Metropolitan Greater Area’s – Electrified) and Quartermaster for Eastern Europe for Allego

Also on show was the very first fully electric mini excavator from J.C. Bamford Excavators. This little digger can deliver a full day’s shift after a quick 2-hour charge. But the best thing is that it’s 5 times quieter than a diesel engine, meaning that it’s ideal for the inner city or residential areas – not to mention, doing its part in the fight against climate change.

Can you imagine a Warsaw with low emission zones? The city is definitely headed in that direction so it’s possible in the future.

-Marcin Korolec, President, Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (FPPE)

The 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal won’t happen again with new policies and regulations imposed by the European Commission.

-Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

There’s still a long way to go, but investments in this sector in Poland are growing rapidly.

-Grzegorz Gałczyński, Strategic Industry Manager, Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH)

We see a role for concessional financing in Poland’s e-mobility strategy, to absorb risk and offer flexibility as Poland continues to break ground in this area.

-Jamie Lee-Brown, Transport Global Practice, World Bank Group

Five years ago, there were only 200 electric buses driven on the streets of European cities. Well, in the next two years, we expect to see growth of up to 4000-5000 new battery-powered buses every year. Solaris is playing an important role in this transition towards e-mobility. We are offering ready-made electric buses not only to large metropolises but also to the smaller cities.

-Mateusz Figaszewski, Director, E-mobility Development & PR, Solaris

We need more cities with the courage to deploy e-transportation. I think, as manufacturers, we also need to support the legislation process and infrastructure development. And I think it’s going in the right direction.

-Michał Maćkowiak, CEO, Rafako E-bus

The cost of electric public transport can be higher, but it’s important to consider air quality, CO2 emissions, congestion. Electric buses are also quieter, so you can create special quiet zero-emission zones and give priority to public transport.

-Marek Gawroński, Public and Governmental Affairs Vice President, Volvo Group Poland

What’s really important for the cities and the users, is that the chargers and technology need to be reliable. The worst thing that can happen is that the driver goes to use the charger and it’s not working.

-Katarzyna Sobótka-Demianowska, Head of Emobility, ABB Poland

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Written by: Poland Today Team