Laos expects to import electric vehicles next year to support the government’s move to minimise the use of fossil fuels.

The import of electric vehicles will follow the government’s order for a pilot project, EV Lao Company Ltd deputy managing director, Thongchanh Santhasith, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday.

He said the project would be run with full government support and hoped it would progress smoothly.

Electricite du Laos (EDL) and the EV Lao Company Limited are currently testing the installation of charging stations at EDL, EV Lao Company Limited and the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

They hope to install 20 stations in Vientiane this year.

Other priority locations include Wattay International Airport, bus stations, the first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and various government organisations.

Tests are being run to compare operating costs between electric and fossil fuel vehicles as well as safety measures, and to ascertain the quality of the vehicles.

“We are also discussing charging a special price for electricity at charging stations as well as tax benefits and other incentives to encourage the use of electric vehicles. We hope to finalise everything this year,” Thongchanh said.

He was confident that electric vehicles would cut running costs by up to five times compared to the cost of fossil fuel, but said consumers would have to pay more to purchase electric vehicles.

The use of electric vehicles would also help decrease the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, he said.

Laos imports a large volume of fuel annually, which has caused a large trade deficit over the years.

In 2016, Laos imported almost 2,000 million litres of fuel, worth more than $1 billion, and this shot up to nearly $2 billion last year.

The testing of the charging systems for electric vehicles is a vital part of long-term preparations for changing over to clean energy.

Laos is promoting the use of clean energy in the transport sector as part of its measures to translate into action the government’s policy until 2025, the strategy for 2030, and vision for 2050.

Laos has abundant potential to generate energy from natural resources such as water, solar power, wind and waste. These could be used to create 26,000MW. So far, about 20 percent of this potential has been utilised.

Countries around the world are promoting the use of clean energy.

European nations are using electric vehicles after their governments supported moves to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions. Vientiane time