[WATCH] Environment minister says focus will shift to electric cars not plug-in hybrids

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli says government policy is to focus on encouraging the purchase of electric cars that produce no emissions after grant for plug-in hybrids has been used up

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli
Energy Minister Miriam Dalli

Environment minister Miriam Dalli has said government will focus its efforts on electric vehicles, rather than hybrids after the grant scheme for the latter was taken up.

“If we truly believe we want to reduce pollution stemming from transport, the vehicles which truly reduce pollution are zero emission vehicles,” she said when asked on government policy regarding plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrids have a normal combustion engine but also have batteries that can be charged through the mains, giving the vehicle some autonomy on battery power. Government offered generous grants for the purchase of new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles but Transport Malta announced recently it will be closing the scheme for hybrid vehicles after it was fully taken up. The scheme will end in May.

The Nationalist Party on Monday called for the scheme to be retained and extended.

But Dalli said government should focus on zero-emission vehicles.

“When we are speaking about plug-in hybrids, we are speaking about cars which give you a certain distance on the electric motor, which is quite low,” she said. “The moment the car no longer has electric power, users switch to internal combustion engines, and that is counterproductive.”

She said this pattern among plug-in hybrid drivers has been observed across Europe not only Malta.

“European Union legislation shows the technology that is currently preferred is zero emission technology,” she said.

#ClimateOn campaign

The minister spoke to journalists after launching the #ClimateOn campaign to raise awareness for a more sustainable living.

Dalli said the campaign should serve as a platform for awareness for companies, businesses, families, young people and students to adopt climate friendly practices.

“Timely action is needed to reduce and adapt to the impacts climate change is having," she said.