Development and innovation in the search for alternative drives to classic combustion engines are progressing very quickly, and Slovakia wants to be ready for them; we already have other alternative fuels, which should be the future, interim Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Tuesday in response to the call of opposition SaS chair Richard Sulik, who wants Slovakia to reject the EU's proposal for a complete ban on the sale of combustion engines after 2035.
According to the premier, it isn't in our interest to commit ourselves exclusively to electromobility.
"The real problem isn't that after 2035 we'll no longer produce cars with petrol and diesel engines. Oil resources are limited and we're facing serious climate problems," said Heger, describing Sulik's call as collecting cheap political points. Heger pointed out that the ministry under Richard Sulik previously agreed with the proposed ban and provided a supporting opinion.
According to the premier, as an automotive super power, we'll work hard to ensure that the people of Slovakia and the automotive industry move forward and not fall asleep to the times. "In Brussels, our voice is heard and our opinions are respected. I think we've already proven this several times," added Heger. However, he didn't clearly specify what Slovakia's position will be during the vote.
The opposition SaS party argues+ that the majority of families in Slovakia won't be able to afford an electric car, while at the same time it would negatively impact Slovakia's car industry.
"I want to call on interim premier Eduard Heger to state clearly how Slovakia wants to approach this matter, to explain his position and, if possible, to reject the ban on the sale of combustion engines," said SaS leader Richard Sulik at a press conference. Both the prime minister and interim Environment Minister Jan Budaj are too flippantly agreeing with everything that comes from Brussels, according to the SaS leader.
"In this case, it would indeed be very desirable to join the opposing minority [within the EU], namely the countries of Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic," remarked Sulik.
The proposal for a ban on internal combustion engines was approved by the European Parliament on February 14, but the decision has been opposed most recently by Germany, which is demanding that the production of synthetic-fuel internal combustion engines should be preserved. The final vote on the bill has therefore been postponed by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Sulik at the same time took a critical approach towards interim Economy Minister Karel Hirman, claiming in regards to the planned construction of a Volkswagen battery plant in central Europe that the minister has "thrown in the towel" and has ceased holding talks with this particular investor, and others as well, on investing in an industrial park in Nitra region.
Sulik warned of a possible loss of competitiveness for Slovakia's automotive industry in the event of a failure to ensure the production of batteries for electric cars in the country. Given the weight of these batteries and the transport costs from factories in other countries, Sulik opined that it wouldn't be so profitable to produce electric cars in Slovakia.
Interim Economy Minister Karel Hirman accused his predecessor in office Sulik of going to Brussels for negotiations minimally. Hirman added that the ex-economy minister also wanted to radically reduce the professional staff at the permanent representation. "Precisely during the time when Mr. Sulik was the minister and when he wanted to decimate this expert team in Brussels, many negotiations were taking place, which more or less also related to the approach to the issue of banning the sale of new combustion-powered cars," said Hirman.
The Economy Ministry also rejected objections that it isn't trying to attract investors in e-mobility, and claims that it's holding talks with several foreign investors about the possibility of building a plant for the production of batteries for electric cars. "However, one of the fundamental rules for obtaining such strategically important and large-scale investments is to maintain discretion and refrain from public comments until the investment is finally agreed upon and submitted to the government for approval," pointed out the ministry.
According to Hirman, Sulik's accusations of the current ministry management for inaction in promoting investments in electromobility are paradoxical. "During their tenure at the Economy Ministry, Mr. Sulik and SaS representatives repeatedly publicly expressed scepticism about electric mobility and, on the contrary, promoted other types of propulsion as an alternative," added Hirman.
Sulik criticised Hirman claiming in regards to the planned construction of a Volkswagen battery plant in central Europe that the minister has "thrown in the towel" and has ceased holding talks with this particular investor, and others as well, on investing in an industrial park in Nitra region. (TASR)