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Opinions & Interviews

25 Jan 2019

Lukashenko wants more progress in Belarus electric vehicle industry

Lukashenko wants more progress in Belarus electric vehicle industry
An archive photo

MINSK, 25 January (BelTA) – Electric vehicles and electric energy in general should be used more broadly in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko said as he talked to scientists after a ceremony to present Doctor of Sciences diplomas and Professor certificates in Minsk on 25 January, BelTA has learned.

The head of state noted that the nuclear power plant will soon be commissioned in Belarus. Existing power grids have largely been upgraded. As a result, the country will be able to export electric energy and expand its use domestically. “Let us start with our own people. We can develop energy-efficient stoves and devices at reasonable prices that will not be higher than gas prices. Cars running on gasoline and diesel fuel can be replaced by electric cars. This task was set for the National Academy of Sciences. Will you be able to fulfill this task this year? This pertains to a broad range of electric vehicles, from electric bicycles to tractors and MAZ vehicles with electric traction. We need to do it on our own,” the president said.

He noted that he uses an electric motorcycle, though this motorcycle is made of Chinese parts. “It is good that you designed an electric motorcycle in China and brought it here for me for a test drive. I use it as much as I can. It is a great thing. However, it is all Chinese, except for the frame that you welded there. But we need our own products. First of all, batteries,” the president noted.

Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Vladimir Gusakov reported that work is underway on a whole range of electric vehicles. “An electric bicycle, scooter; now we are also working on a Belarusian motorbike. As far as electric cars are concerned, the first test model that we demonstrated has been finalized. We have already designed an electric mini-van, a small electric municipal vehicle and a small truck. We are ready to show them to you,” he informed.

Vladimir Gusakov unveiled plans to set up a small experimental facility to produce electric transport.

According to him, scientists have already developed a domestic battery that is undergoing tests right now. It can challenge foreign products in terms of many specifications. “It is a graphene battery, not a lithium one. Lithium is very expensive and it can be found only in China. At the same time, we produce enough graphene in Belarus. We have already installed domestically produced batteries on an electric car and electric bicycles. We are testing them,” Vladimir Gusakov said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that it is important to move forward using the world’s best practices instead of trying to invent the wheel. “I brought you a Tesla and put it next to your model. I realize that this model was crude, but I do not think you will invent a Belarusian Tesla. However, you should strive to roll out an affordable car with a good price/quality ratio,” the Belarusian leader said.
Vladimir Gusakov informed that the improved model is two times more powerful and efficient than the previous version of the Belarusian electric car. “We are working on it. A task was set to come up with a product similar to a Tesla car,” he said. 
Alexander Lukashenko asked about specifications of the Belarusian electric car. It turned out that this car can cover only 250km on a single charge. “We will increase it up to 500km. We are working on it,” Vladimir Gusakov assured.
He added that a Belarusian electric engine will be on display at the exhibition timed to Belarusian Science Day.

Belarus’ Deputy Prime Minister Igor Lyashenko noted that last week he saw a tractor fitted with an electric drive. “This work should be streamlined. We know our bottleneck – it is the lack of a high-capacity energy source, like you said,” he noted.

According to the vice premier, this matter had been discussed with the Geely company chief during the talks on launching production of electric cars in Belarus. “They are still working on it; therefore they were not ready to roll out electric cars this year. The work is underway. They are not there yet when it comes to electric battery cells,” Igor Lyashenko said.

Alexander Lukashenko believes that electric cars, just like electric transport in general are something Belarus should focus on. Speaking about his experience of driving a Tesla car, he said: “I love driving. It is my hobby. I have driven many cars. However, a Tesla is a wonder car. It is fast and can move at a high speed. There is even no place to test it properly.  It can go as fast as 250km/h on the ring road. It is very smooth and stable,” the head of state said.

“It is very important for our people and the country. Electric vehicles are not the future; they are the present of the entire planet. We should not drag behind. Therefore, we will see at the end of the year what you will have achieved,” the Belarusian leader said. 

Alexander Lukashenko noted that science should focus on things that are relevant for people and the state. “It is advisable to avoid irrelevant areas of research. Scientists should work on the things the economy and people need today without forgetting about fundamental research if it is necessary and marketable,” the head of state said.

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