Electric car will have little positive impact on the country.jpg

Electric car will have little positive impact on the country

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By: CHRIS GRAEME

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THE PRODUCTION of an electric car in Portugal will have little or no beneficial impact for the Portuguese economy, say critics.

Much trumpeted recent negotiations between the government and Renault-Nissan have already been “significantly scaled down” with the likelihood that the clean-green vehicle would only be marketed and sold in Portugal.

The decision by the Japanese car maker to relocate main production facilities elsewhere has led to strong criticism of the Minister for the Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pinho, who is already under strong pressure from backbenchers to be dismissed.

Negotiations between the Portuguese government and Renault-Nissan began in March this year with discussions on a series of investments in the research, development and production of an all-electric car and its allied components and parts in Portugal.

The plan would have involved a number of Portuguese companies and would have required the development of a specialised electrical grid network and re-charging centres for the battery-run cars.

Negotiations have so far settled merely on the production of batteries for the car, implying a probable increase in the size of a factory in Cacia, central Portugal.

Portugal dismissed

Renault-Nissan has, according to undisclosed sources close to the government, already told it that Portugal is “not on the priority list of European countries” earmarked for research, development and production of the new vehicle.

A number of companies were prepared to sign up to the electric car system project including EDP, Galp, Brisa, Efacec, Martifer, Jéronimo Martins and Sonae.

But now Renault-Nissan says it wants an “exclusive electrical network system” for its vehicles which, based on present estimates, would only represent an economically unviable 4,000 to 11,000 cars.

Another headache for the government is its reliance on fossil fuel taxes to run the state which would inevitably diminish if electric cars took off in Portugal.