26.11.2021 [17:00-20:00] – Petrich, BULGARIA
On Friday, 26th of November, we launched our series of round tables in the Greece-Bulgaria cross-border region as part of the E.VE.CR.I project, funded by the Cooperation Programme Interreg V-A “Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020”. The venue chosen for this event was Hotel Bats in Petrich where we gathered local business owners and specialist from the electric vehicles industry who shared valuable insight into latest trends and technologies. Representatives of all E.VE.CR.I beneficiaries were present at the meeting – both online and in-person. This meeting provoked active discussion about what we can possibly do to make the cross-border region not only greener but more integrated, as well.
Some of the guests, unsurprisingly, arrived with electric vehicles to the venue. Project beneficiaries had arranged a Kia Niro to be available to willing drivers for a test-drive prior to the meeting. A Tesla model S was also available for a test-drive courtesy one of the attendees. Four guests and employees at the venue seized the chance to have their first experience with driving an electric vehicle.
A local TV crew also turned up to cover the event.
The round table, now that everyone was seated at the conference hall, kicked off with a welcome speech by the event moderator Mrs Tsonya Krasteva, followed by a brief introduction of the project, explaining its scope and the aims of this event.
Shortly after, representatives from Voltspot – one of Bulgaria’s biggest charging networks – took the word and prompted an engaging discussion. They were largely optimistic about the adoption of electric vehicles in Bulgaria – when second-hand electric vehicles become widespread in the market, they would likely be affordable to many Bulgarians. Voltspot, boasts a dense coverage of the main internal routes in Bulgaria.
‘Just look at the Trakia motorway. Our network alone has a quick charging station for every 80km.’
However, the cross-border region certainly has room for improvement. Murry Ivanov shared the example of a charging station in Marikostenovo (a village situated besides the Struma motorway, a few kilometres from the Bulgaria-Greece border) which struggles to keep up with the demand, especially during the summer holiday season. The reason is increased traffic from Central Europe – travellers from countries such as Germany and Austria where electric mobility is more prevalent – towards Greek resorts.
Other topics of discussion included recent changes in electricity prices and global trends in electric mobility, such as the adoption of electric lorries in the most developed countries and how could this apply to us.
Mr Ilia Petrov from Kia took the stage next and gave an insightful presentation on the latest trends in Kia’s EVs department. Guests were introduced to the new Kia EV6. This model is based on an entirely new platform developed specifically for electric vehicles – as opposed to the Niro, offered at the test drive, which is based on a conventional car platform. As continuation to this effort, Kia has developed a universal chassis that can be used as the basis for distinct models of various size, shape and purpose.
‘Kia’s goal is to develop 6 distinct entirely electric models by 2026.’
Notable points made during this presentation also included: Kia’s aspirations to create 100% recyclable vehicles; shifting the new models to an 800-volt system which allows charging to be completed twice as fast; EVs can now be used as power banks in the event of emergency.
Mr Petrov also introduced the guests to Kia’s extensive and advanced charging network, the charging products offered by them and their electromobility platform. It has to be noted that achieving integration between the platforms offered by the various charging operators is one of the overarching goals of this project. Thus this is a topic that would be heavily studied and discussed throughout the course of this project.
In the spirit of the Green Deal:
‘Kia will discontinue the manufacturing of all conventional cars by 2030!’
A notable representative of the local business attending the round table was engineer Mr Kiril Georgiev – the founder and director of “Ekita”. “Ekita” is a local company with nearly 30 years of experience in the manufacturing of electric motors. Mr Georgiev was eager to take the word and share with the rest his experience of converting a conventional car into an electric one few decades ago. He expressed some pessimism about Europe’s loss of manufacturing power and the increasing reluctance of people to go into manufacturing.
The last part of the event was dedicated to presenting the Greek point of view to the Bulgarian audience. Mr Stavros Stavris joined the event remotely via an online platform in order to share his extensive knowledge on the topic. Mr Martin Zaimov, who is a Board Member of BAEPS, acted as a translator during this presentation. In his capacity as a former president of the Hellenic Association of Toll Network, Mr Stavris presented a very detailed case of the charging infrastructure and capabilities available at the toll highway system in Greece. Mr Stavris presented a succinct account of all the important metrics of electric mobility in Greece such as sales of EVs, number and density of charging stations, as well as their type, and also provided assessment of the benefits, both in terms of harmful emissions reductions and monetary savings, that Greek drivers of EVs enjoy. The topic of electromobility platforms was covered again. This lecture provided a lot context to the topics already discussed at the round table and was a great complementary to them.
Following Mr Stavris’ presentation, Mr Zaimov initiated a Q/A session on behalf of his Greek colleague during which participants had the chance to inquire about specific issues on the Greek side of the cross-border region. A discussion on the differences and similarities between the two countries naturally ensued – as it pertains to electric mobility and charging networks.
The event was wrapped by attendees having a coffee break and a brief mingle with promise for the future of electric mobility in the cross-border region.
Links to the presentations given during the round table: