Maciej Chmielinski weaved his electric compact BMW, quiet as a whisper, through the noisy Warsaw traffic – a rare sight among the growling delivery trucks and gas guzzlers that tainted the spring morning with exhaust fumes.
It was the fifth day since Innogy Polska rolled out what it says is Europe’s third-largest electric car-sharing fleet, a programme that Mr Chmielinski helped design. He hoped that the German utility’s foray into transport will provide residents of the congested Polish capital a glimpse into the future of eco-friendly driving and help combat pollution. But even if successful beyond his wildest dreams, the service will only be a drop in the ocean.
Poland is home to more than 30 of the 50 European cities suffering from the worst air pollution. Because of the nervy local politics of coal, there’s been so little progress on the government’s ambitious plans for cleaner air that the lofty targets have become demotivating punchlines, rather than inspirational catalysts.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki set a goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2025, compared with less than 5,000 at the end of March, including plug-in hybrids.