The High Cost of Going Electric in Bulgaria

When it comes to electric cars' popularity in Bulgaria, the numbers don't look impressive yet. But nevertheless, the signs that a shift might be on the way are starting to appear.

Electric Car And Electric Vehicle Charging Station stock photo
Photo: iStock.com / sefa ozel

In the half of 2023, some 4,353 electric cars were registered in Bulgaria, the latest numbers from Traffic Police reveal. That might not seem like a lot, but compared to the same period in 2022, when 1,669 electric cars received new license plates, this number represents a 160% growth. All in all, as of July 1, there are 8,559 electric vehicles in circulation in Bulgaria.

A growing market share

In the first six months of the year, Tesla ranked first among the most preferred brands, representing 491 of the vehicles, new and used, which can now be spotted in Bulgaria, followed by offerings from Dacia and BMW.

For comparison, in the first half of 2022, 128 Bulgarians chose cars manufactured by Tesla, while only eleven customers opted for a brand-new vehicle. Again, while orders in Bulgaria for new Tesla vehicles stood at 178 in the first half of 2023, compared to the hundreds of thousands of combined new orders elsewhere, this will hardly make a difference for the car producer. However, interest is rising despite the fact that Tesla doesn’t even have an official office in Bulgaria.

But lack of direct representation is hardly the only reason for the still insufficient growth of the number of electric cars in Bulgaria, a country which, along with six other EU countries, offers no financial incentives for purchasing electric cars. As of now, electric car owners can rely on the occasional free parking spot, provided they can find it.

Growing incentives

The list of countries for which the bonuses do not apply, apart from Bulgaria, includes Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, and Sweden. Among the 3Seas region countries, Romania and Croatia are standing out with the financial incentives they offer to prospective buyers. In Romania, the subsidy stands at EUR 11,000 and EUR 6,400 for a plug-in hybrid, while in Croatia, the amounts are EUR 9,291 and EUR 5,309, respectively. For comparison, Cyprus offers as much as EUR 19,000 as compensation, with another EUR 1,000 on the table if the old car is being scraped.

A look at the rest of Europe shows an increase of more than 53% in electric car registrations in the first half of 2023, according to figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. The organization also found that in EU countries, electric cars are outselling their diesel counterparts. It is reported that compared to the first half of last year, the share of these cars jumped from 10.7% to 15.1%, representing 158,252 sales of electric vehicles.

Across the EU, preference for petrol cars is still holding at 36.3%, followed by hybrids at 24.3%. Diesel accounted for 13.4% of transactions. The picture in Bulgaria is a tad different, with only 4.5% of new cars purchased running on electricity, while diesel cars account for 18.4% of transactions.

To put it in driver’s terms, the road ahead is long, but speed is picking up.

Galina Ganeva

a journalist with experience working for some of the most influential Bulgarian publications. She mostly writes about the intersection of society and culture

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