Destinations met with Nazar Shymone-Davyda and Helen Artemenko, the founders of Tesla Club Ukraine, to talk about electric cars in Ukraine and the unique inventions of the company.
Nazar Shymone-Davyda: It is not just a club of Tesla cars owners. Tesla Club Ukraine is the company which is engaged in the development of a free chargers’ network for electric vehicles in Ukraine. We do not distinguish Tesla or any other brand of electric cars. We talk about the universal chargers and during the last year, thanks to our partners, we have managed to build the largest network in Ukraine. Now there are 54 chargers. This is our main activity.
2013 was one of the most difficult years for Ukraine. However, that's when you decided to organize Tesla Club. Why did you decide to do it? And what is the background?
There was a desire to be part of something big, something that could change the world for better, something revolutionary. In the midst of winter 2013 events we were on Maidan in Kiev, but we have begun our work as Tesla Club long before that. The first cars were ordered early 2013 and at the beginning of 2014 the first Tesla car arrived to our country. After the revolution we have already started to work more actively. We could hardly imagine how it should work. We just brought a new Tesla here. It was the first electric car in Ukraine. We faced the problem of psychological perception of that idea. People thought that it was something very distant. But there will always be a few enthusiasts and innovators who will buy these cars. In 5-6 years the majority of cars will be electric. We will forget about obsolete gasoline cars.
Who supports your ideas?
For every person it is very important to feel that he is not alone in his innovative ideas. When you see that the OKKO network of gas stations installed 34 chargers for electric vehicles at once, you realize that everything is fine. The world is moving in this direction and there is a circle of like-minded people. The same happened with restaurants. In Kiev we’ve been supported by Dima Borisov who installed chargers near all his restaurants. Vardkes Arzumanian in Lviv and Sawa Libkin in Odessa also supported that idea. If we talk about the Government, well, it is not much enthusiastic about this idea, however, it has removed some custom duties and electric cars are a bit cheaper now. It is utopia to think that the state will set up the network of chargers. Well, even if they would do this, it is important that they do it correctly. We came up with an affiliate program that will encourage institutions to install the chargers. For them it is a good promotion. This idea is similar to the one that occurred with wi-fi installation in restaurants. You get free internet but you pay for other services and products at the same time. The cost of equipment is correlated with this but at the same time you have the loyalty of the client.
Can you please describe your customer? Who sits behind the wheel of the electric vehicle now in Ukraine?
It is a good question. If we talk about Tesla car, we mean wealthy people who can afford such a car, because the price for it starts with Euro 100 000. But there are other electric vehicles. For example, now we look at Nissan Leaf. Tesla car for Euro 120 000 is a dream for many people. But the car has to be a transport but not a dream. For example, Nissan Leaf costs about USD 20 000. More than 200 000 of such cars have been sold worldwide. It is the ideal car for a city. But who are these people driving electric cars? First of all, these are the people with innovative way of thinking, who want to have something new and modern. They are also pragmatic users. We want to convey the idea that the electric car is a common thing; yes, it is an innovative one but it is better than traditional car.
How did the attitude towards electric cars change in Ukraine during the last 2-3 years?
In 2014 dozens of cars were sold, in 2015 more than 1000 cars found their homes. The increase is 1000%. Every 100th sold car on our market is the electric car. This is a very good indicator. 1% is a very high figure. It is no longer exotic. Efficiency of electric cars is a nice bonus, but not the priority. This is especially convenient, quiet, dynamic vehicle; it also helps to save the budget, approximately USD 1,000 for six months.
What is the future of electric cars in Ukraine in the coming years?
The main turning point has already taken place. In 2016-2017 the competition among car manufacturers will be very tough. Currently there are no monopolies among producers. Tesla is working on a cheaper model. It will be a car for USD 35 000. Chevrolet has developed already Bolt model electric car. Its charge is enough for 350 km and it costs around USD 20 000. Ukraine is a country of high potential for electric cars’ manufacturers. There is an interesting statistics: every new 20 cars appear for each new charger in the world. There are 54 chargers and 1000 electric cars in Ukraine now. And the charging itself is not the first necessity, because you can charge your car at your garage using 220 volt socket during night. Chargers are a nice bonus. Thanks to our network of chargers and loyalty program we realized that such a system is a unique one and it does not exist anywhere in the world. We will display our system to the world market. Primarily it will be due to our mobile application and due to those people who already have chargers in Europe. They will be connected to our application system and we will create something similar to booking.com. There will be a network based on chargers and connected to hotels, restaurants and business centers. There are no analogues of such an application anywhere in the world. Its developers are from Zaporizzha. This system will allow the driver to book the time for charging and the application will issue the contact of that person. Check-in will be bonus advertising for the institution. And it will work all over the world with different options. “To You” will be the name for this system. We are moving away from “Tesla Club Ukraine” name. The application will be available soon for Android and IOS.
Is it appropriate to talk about prestige with respect to electric vehicles?
I have to say that first of all, Tesla will outrun any Lamborghini and Ferrari from the start, even though it is 7-seat sedan against 2-seat sport car.
If we talk about the prestige of cheaper cars, I must say that Nissan Leaf is more prestigious than BMW 3 Series due to its better characteristics: dynamics, silence, safety, reliability and easier managing thanks to electronics. The car feels very confident in winter on snow.
If you could create a perfect car of the future what would it be?
Tesla model 3 embodies all the best. This is perfect autonomous vehicle with the autopilot and all the most advanced technologies that can transform the management of the car into pure pleasure.
Could the alternative energy in Ukraine be considered a real thing in the coming years?
Yes, this is the future. Wind energy and solar energy are actively developing now. Resources consumption should be meaningful.
Would you like to travel around the world on electric car?
There was a case. The Spaniard has already traveled around the world on electric car and we’ve met with him once. But I would prefer that everyone has the opportunity to make such a voyage. We want electric cars to become a mass phenomenon. Already now it is possible to travel over Europe without spending a coin for gasoline. Tesla superchargers are coming to Ukraine in the nearest future. They are in Poland already now. The car can be fully charged in half an hour. Chargers are free of charge for the Tesla car owners. There are 216 of such superchargers already now. They are built between the cities in order to make long journeys possible. The future is here and now!
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak