Updated | Malta can be at forefront of EU electric vehicle changeover, Prime Minister says

An inter-ministerial committee will soon release the findings of a study on the changeover to zero-emission vehicles

Joseph Muscat says Malta will soon announce its cut-off date by when new cars will be only electric vehicles
Joseph Muscat says Malta will soon announce its cut-off date by when new cars will be only electric vehicles

Malta can be amongst the first EU countries to switch its vehicles to electric cars, the Prime Minister told delegates at a summit on e-mobility.

Joseph Muscat said an inter-ministerial committee focusing on electric cars had recruited audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out a study and establish a cut-off date for the transition to electric vehicles.

A report on this is expected to be finalised in the coming weeks, he said.

“We are ready for proposals on how we can make Malta one of the first EU states which has cars running on clean energy. This will create a unique testing bed for all those at this summit, especially service providers,” Muscat insisted.

Delegates at the summit included leaders from the automotive industry
Delegates at the summit included leaders from the automotive industry

He was addressing the E-Mobility Summit in Malta on Friday, a gathering of policy makers and car industry leaders.

Malta could serve as a pilot project for the changeover to zero-emission vehicles, Muscat added.

The ongoing €700 million road infrastructure overhaul will go hand in hand with the changeover plans, he said. The overhaul will make Malta’s streets ready for the switchover, including the provision of more charging points.

Muscat underlined that the effects of such a switch still had to be studied in detail, since Malta was heavily reliant on conventionally-fuelled vehicles.

A study also had to take place on whether the national power grid could cope with the additional demand placed on it by people needing to charge their cars, he pointed out.

“The naysayers previously used to say that we were investing too heavily in the electrical supply which would be capable of generating more energy than we needed. But if we had not carried out the investment [in the new power station] we wouldn’t even be in a position to consider a changeover to e-cars,” he said.

Muscat, moreover, said the government was also considering offering incentives to people who own ecars and charge them in their own households, such as giving them special electrical tariffs. “I believe owners of electric vehicles should be able to charge their cars at home at acceptable domestic tariffs,” he said.

Labour Party MEP Miriam Dalli
Labour Party MEP Miriam Dalli

The Prime Minister went on to acknowledge Labour Party MEP Miriam Dalli for the work she had been piloting within the European Parliament to set targets for vehicle emissions. “I am proud to say that leading the European green revolution is our best MEP – Miriam Dalli.”              

Account for climate change in all policy decisions – Miriam Dalli

Taking the podium after Muscat, Dalli – who was at the forefront of a recent agreement reached at EU-level for cars and vans to emit 37.5% less CO2 by 2030 – emphasised the need for climate change to be at the forefront of policy makers’ decisions across Europe.

“This is a new era of globalisation, climate change, a shift in global powers and rapid technological innovations which are affecting our way of life,” Dalli said.

“The reality of climate change necessitates a shift from traditional economic models to ones which are based on sustainability.”

She said that if no action is taken, society could be running the risk of facing climate change consequences which will impact productivity, competitiveness and economic and political stability.

Challenges in this regard should also be viewed as possibilities, however, she underscored.

“This is not only about challenges but also about possibilities – we can stay ahead of the curb, anticipate other continents, create quality jobs and ensure our consumers have the best deal possible. This is about industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution - which should not focus on technology only but on ecological aspects as well.”

Reflecting the Prime Minister’s position, she said Malta could be an ideal place for pilot projects, not only for Emobility, but for cleaner energy in general. “Gozo can be an ideal test bed, since it is smaller,” she said.

“Change won’t happen overtime but I’m convinced it will happen. And it will present us with so many more opportunities,” Dalli said in her concluding arguments.

Forward-looking mobility infrastructure indispensable - Environment Minister

Speaking at the summit, Environment Minister Jose Herrera noted with satisfaction that work is currently ongoing on the development of a low carbon development strategy - of which e-mobility is a key factor - which continues to build on the government’s vision in this regard which was announced a few years ago.

“Transport plays a major role in the improvement of every modern society as a means for economic development and a prerequisite for achieving social and regional cohesion”, Herrera said while emphasising that a collective effort in needed, across all sectors, and from all key stakeholders, in order to achieve Malta's targets.

“A cleaner environment is what we are all striving for, as this is effectively translated into a better quality of life for all citizens, hence a forward-looking mobility infrastructure is indispensable and crucial for a successful transition," he said.