The ever-growing number of vehicles, an acute reality in Azerbaijan, is not pleasant from an ecological point of view. The capital city of Baku, where most of the cars are concentrated, is especially in danger of this "rise of machines".
Samir Aliyev, an expert of the public association Promoting Economic Initiatives, told local press that the sharp rise of fuel consumption in recent years has encouraged the government to adopt some tough measures.
Fuel price has risen, terms of car loans have become tougher, production of Al-95 gasoline has been suspended, and its import has begun in Azerbaijan. Moreover, the application of Euro 4 standards has limited the import of cars in the country.
Aliyev said all these measures are aimed at reducing the growth of vehicles in the country, as well as fuel consumption.
Statistical analysis shows that the number of cars in Azerbaijan is increasing by 10 percent every year, he noted.
"However, if fuel consumption in the country was 785 thousand tons in 2007, it was 1.3 million tons in 2013. Thus, fuel consumption has increased by 67 percent," Aliyev said. "In the next 10 years, the number of cars in the country will double, reaching 2.5-3 million."
This increase in number of cars will increase fuel demands, which can lead to an environmental disaster in Baku, he said.
Aliyev considers it necessary to adopt a state program to reduce pollution and dependence on energy recourses.
Such measures include vehicle fleet renovation. "We need to withdraw old cars from the turnover. On the other hand, it is necessary to limit the import of large fuel-consuming cars into the country. For these purposes, a special tax regime can be applied. Russia and Kazakhstan have already implemented such tax regimes," he said.
Electric cars to save the situation
The expert believes that it is also necessary to stimulate the import of electric cars in the country, adding that Azerbaijan's financial potential allows the implementation of such a big project.
"The world has paid close attention to the production of electric vehicles in recent years to reduce pollution and dependence on energy. Many countries have adopted government programs to stimulate the production and purchase of electric vehicles," he said.
Latvia adopted a three-year program and allocated €30 million for its implementation last year. Estonia, Russia, and Ukraine have also carried out similar programs. Estonia purchased 750 electric vehicles in 2014 with the assistance of the state.
Aliyev believes that the country must attract customers to such cars.
Today, ecological issues are among the most important ones in the country, and the use of such vehicles will contribute to improving the city's atmosphere. Furthermore, electric vehicles are much more economical than those working with gasoline.
The price of electric cars is not low, starting from €20,000. However, electric cars have many advantages. Their fuel consumption is only €1-2 per 100 kilometers, while ordinary cars use fuel costing €5-6 for the same distance. Moreover, electric cars do not pollute the environment and operates quietly.
"Some European countries are paying the difference between the cost of conventional vehicles and electric vehicles. Another way to encourage the sale of electric cars is the allocation of tax benefits. The UK, France, and Spain offer tax benefits to the owners of electric vehicles. In Germany, they are exempt from transport tax and gain special privileges," he said.
Even an oil producer like Norway pays serious attention to the development of the electric cars market. The most effective method of selling cars is invented in this country; the car owner can receive state subsidies for buying electric vehicles and parking is also free. Moreover, electric fuel stations are also exempt from some taxes. That's why Norway has the highest number of electric vehicles per capita, Aliyev underlined.
The U.S. and Japan are also developing this sector, with Japan planning to increase the share of electric vehicles to 20 percent by 2020.
Of course, the existence of adequate electric fueling stations is one of the main conditions for electric cars.
Earlier in March, an Azerbaijani company engaged in renting cars said electric cars will be available for rent and hire in the country in the near future.
The company plans to deliver 250-300 electric vehicles from European manufacturers to Azerbaijan. The vehicles are planned to be used for rent and hire, but there is also a possibility of their use as taxis in the future.
In addition to using electric vehicles, the company intends to create an infrastructure for their maintenance, particularly charging.