Electric vehicle regulation and law in Bulgaria

While Bulgaria’s business is exploring the EV market and the opportunities it offers, the Bulgarian Government faces a lot of changes if it is to make this segment attractive to the wider population.

1. What EVs have been deployed in your jurisdiction to date?

Number of “Ultra-low emission vehicles”
registered in the first quarter of 2017 1 Number of registered vehicles for the first quarter of 2017

Total number of vehicles registered in Bulgaria 2 Approx. total amount of registered vehicles in Bulgaria according to Eurostat

241 (2 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles + 239 hybrid electric vehicles)

3,300,000

EVs represent a small proportion (0.5%) of the vehicle fleet in Bulgaria, according to official data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). 
As there were no battery electric cars registered in the first quarter of 2017, the amount of “ultra-low emission vehicles” for this period comprises plug-in hybrids and hybrids only.

2. Is there any specific legislation for/regulation of EVs in your jurisdiction?

The National Plan for the Actions for the Promotion of the Production and Enhanced Implementation of Ecologic Motor Vehicles, including Electricity Mobility in the Republic of Bulgaria, was adopted for the period 2012-2014.

An inter-governmental work group was created last November to develop a national work programme together with a road map for developing electricity mobility in Bulgaria up to 2025, with an extended horizon of 2030.

A number of legislative changes were introduced to the primary and secondary legislation. These were aimed at providing tax and other benefits for the owners of EVs, developing the infrastructure and promoting investments in the sector.

The Acts and regulations affected include: the Local Tax and Fees Act 3 State Gazette Issue No. 117 dated 10 December 1997, as amended; ; the Road Traffic Act 4 State Gazette Issue No. 20 dated 5 March 1999, as amended; ; the Spatial Development Act 5 State Gazette Issue No 1 dated 2 January 2001, as amended; ; and the Ordinance for the Design of the Communication-Transportation System of the Urbanized Territories 6 State Gazette Issue No 86 dated 1 October 2004, as amended; .

3. What measures promote EVs in your jurisdiction?

3.1 The National Trust Eco Fund manages the Climate Investment Project and the Promotion of the Use of Electric Vehicles Programme. The programme provides grants for projects connected to promoting the use of EVs by public authorities. The Minister of Environment and Waters distributes the funds to state and municipal institutions.

The focus is on vehicles that may be used for public service activities, including: cleaning; maintenance of parks; social services; inspections; and ensuring the provision of in-town public transport in small settlements with small passenger flows.

The list of EVs eligible for purchase under the programme has been significantly expanded.

The subsidies are:

  • per medium class M1 (vehicles with up to 8 seats) and N1 (cargo vehicles with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3,5 tons) EV – BGN 20,000
  • the small L7e – BGN 20,000
  • minibuses – BGN 40,000
  • class M1 and N1 (6+ 1 and 7+ 1 seats) – BGN 30,000
  • up to BGN 3,000 for the purchase of various types of superstructures for cleaning, cargo transportation, and watering the small L7e.

3.2 Incentives for EV owners (natural persons or legal entities) include: (i) preferential tax treatment and (ii) no fees for parking in paid areas.

The owners of electric cars, motorcycles and mopeds – as well as electric vehicles in categories L5e, L6e and L7e specified in art. 4 of Regulation (EU) No. 168/2013 – are exempt from paying annual local tax for these vehicles.
An electric vehicle is defined as a passenger vehicle with a purely electric powered motor that does not have an internal combustion engine.
EV owners do not pay for parking in the paid areas of the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Burgas.

3.3 The network of chargers and charging stations in the country has expanded rapidly in recent months.
Sofia’s municipality is planning to add 64 extra points in the capital for the placement of charging stations.
One of the major petrol station chains in the country recently announced that is planning to put 16 charging points for fast charging of EVs across its national network during the first quarter of 2018. The first two are already in operation.

4. Who are the main entities (e.g. developers, government, System Operator) and what are their roles in the deployment of EVs in your jurisdiction?

In addition to government, the following business organisations are leading players in Bulgaria’s EV market:

  • EVIC – Electric vehicles industrial cluster – its main aims include: establishing a national charging infrastructure for EVs; adapting legislation and the regulatory framework for promoting the use of EVs; and industrial investment projects for technological innovation and the introduction of innovations to reduce energy intensity of transport schemes.
  • Eldrive  International – its goal is to develop a user-friendly infrastructure of charging stations, covering the city areas as well as the main road infrastructure in the Balkans (Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Greece, Albania).
  • SPARK – the first fully electric car sharing company which provides affordable eco-friendly mobility solutions in Sofia. The SPARK car sharing system also includes a wide network of charging stations in Sofia to ensure the availability of the necessary infrastructure.

5. What are the main challenges to further deployment of EVs in your jurisdiction? How have EV developers sought to overcome these challenges to date?

For Bulgarian consumers, obstacles to EV ownership include:

  • Price – EVs remain more expensive than combustion-driven vehicles – both the vehicles and the insurance premiums.
  • Freedom of travel – even though the charging system is growing rather rapidly, it is still not sufficient to ensure the unimpeded and easy charging of EVs throughout the country.
Dentisa Didevska
Denitsa Dudevska
Senior Associate
Sofia
Picture of Kostadin Sirleshtov
Kostadin Sirleshtov
Managing Partner
Sofia