Kraków, Szczecin & Kielce receive awards at the Urban E-mobility Forum
It’s official. The cities of Szczecin, Kraków and Kielce are leading the urban e-mobility movement in Poland – and doing their part in the fight against climate change, smog and noise pollution in the process.
The cities beat 50 of their counterparts to claim an award each over three different categories in the ‘E-mobility in Cities’ ranking, which was compiled by the think tank Polityka Insight in conjunction with the Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (Fundacja Promocji Pojazdów Elektrycznych – FPPE). The prizes were presented last Thursday at an awards gala during the first Urban E-mobility Forum in Gdynia, co-organised by Poland Today and FPPE.
“Zero-emission transport is becoming a norm,” said Krzysztof Bolesta, Vice President of FPPE, at the awards presentation. “What better way to check how serious cities are about it than to rank them. We used access to public information procedures to get all the necessary data to put the ranking together.”
Szczecin, located on the German border in Northwest Poland, took out the points over Jelenia Góra and Zielona Góra in the category of Urban Policy based on the rapid implementation of its electromobility development strategy and investment in charging stations – it is also home to the highest percentage (13%) of EVs.
Kraków’s long fight against smog was rewarded when it was ranked above Zabrze and Warsaw/Łódź (tied for third) in the Public Transport category. The judges made note of the city’s investment in electric rolling stock and the establishment of Poland’s first low-emissions zone, which is located around the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz.
“I hope next year we’ll be talking about many more cities investing in electric public transport like Kraków,” said Bartosz Piłat, an expert Krakowski Alarm Smogowy, after accepting the award on behalf of the Kraków Public Transport Authority.
The top spot for Individual Transport went to Kielce in south-central Poland, with Szczecin and Jelenia Góra coming close behind. This category looked at how local governments are encouraging residents to switch to electric cars. Factors included support (financial, informational, legal, organisational) provided to commercial companies in the construction of charging stations, the number of stations built by the city, the number of parking spaces reserved for electric cars and the share of bus lanes on public roads. Kielce has dedicated 4% of its roads to bus/EV lanes (four times the country’s average) and enjoys a high ratio of public charging stations per 100,000 residents.
A special mention went to the small city of Jelenia Góra, located at the foot of the Sudetes, which ranked consistently high over all three categories. The Rafako Group, the oldest and largest industrial boilermaker in the country, was also recognised for its brave move to diversify into e-bus manufacturing.
“We were surprised at how the smaller cities outplayed the big ones,” said Bolesta. “We hope this ranking will spur some people on to compete better next year. The ranking could prove to be a great tool to drive e-mobility forward.”
Some of the brightest and most respected minds on the international e-mobility map descended upon the seaside city of Gydnia for the inaugural Urban E-mobility Forum. The Dutch, world leaders in the field, were prominently represented with Ambassador Daphne Bergsma delivering an opening address. She noted that the e-mobility movement must have reached critical mass as even James Bond now drives an EV – albeit a £250K limited-edition Aston Martin Rapide E to appear in the next instalment in the film series.
Gerard Hellburg, Programme Manager at Zero Emission Mobility, shared the secrets of Amsterdam’s successful e-mobility strategy that is on track to support a fully-electric bus fleet powered by 100% renewable energy sources by 2030.
The Finnish tech visionary, Peter Vesterbacka, rolled out his latest investment, the retro-chic Nobe 100 EV produced by the boutique auto-manufacturer Nobe from Estonia. He also spoke about the immense business opportunity that awaits countries like Poland, suggesting that the “e” in e-mobility should stand for entrepreneurship as much as electric.
Other examples of the latest in EV tech were on show, including the world’s first electric excavator from J.C. Bamford Excavators and Peugeot’s debut into the EV market, the e-208 hatch, which is one of the few EVs on the Polish market eligible for the €8.6K subsidy (€36K for public administration) provided by the new Low-emission Transport Fund.
European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska assured the audience that the European Commission had built a robust legal framework around the EV industry so that another Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal won’t arise again. This was especially welcomed by the investors in the auditorium, who talked about innovative financing models at the disposal of cities and local government looking to make the ‘green shift’.
Jamie Lee-Brown from the World Bank suggested that the bank could help entities to absorb some of the risk associated with e-mobility investments and added that he was already impressed by the development of Poland’s nascent e-mobility industry.
The Polish experts echoed this sentiment. The consensus was that although the local industry had a long way to go, both private and public investment was growing rapidly, partly thanks to the National Electromobility Development Plan and the €3bn commitment the government has pledged over the next 10 years.
Marcin Korolec, President of FPPE, closed with a tempting hypothetical: “Imagine a Warsaw with low emission zones?” It turns out that Poland’s capital may not need to imagine for too much longer. The city’s bus authority announced over the summer that it plans to field 400 zero or low-emissions buses by 2021 and remove diesel buses from the ‘Royal Route’ in Warsaw’s premier shopping precinct.
As an auspicious endnote, Poczta Polska, Poland’s national postal service, announced on the same day as the forum that it had begun to deploy electric postal vans (Nissan e-NV200) in 11 cities.