What We Think

August 4, 2020

Chart of the Week (30) – Motor vehicles

The Maltese are said to love their cars, as is confirmed time and time again by quarterly statistics published by the NSO. In the latest release on the subject, covering the first half of this year, the number of licensed motor vehicles on the Island reached 395,413, of which 77% are passenger cars.

Notwithstanding, the motor vehicle market has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite having registered close to 9,000 newly licensed motor vehicles in the first half of 2020, this actually amounts to 36% less of what was registered during the same period last year. The largest drops have been reported in the ‘Coach and private bus’ category, mirroring the muted transport activities triggered by school lockdowns and tourist travel restrictions, as well as the ‘Passenger car’ category which is reflective of the fragile consumer confidence in these uncertain times.

As expected, fossil fuel powered vehicles are the most common on our streets, making up 98.8% of the entire Maltese market. The remaining 1.2%, which is the equivalent of 4,934 vehicles, is almost equally shared between electric and hybrid vehicles. Numerous studies have shown that electric motor vehicles can significantly help lower air and noise pollution in high density areas. With Malta being one of the most densely populated countries globally, and with there being approximately 0.8 cars on Malta’s roads for every person living here, the country will undoubtedly stand to benefit significantly if it manages to shift towards higher take-up of electric and hybrid vehicles.

To this end, there have been a number of efforts taken by Government, in recent years, to promote the shift towards environment-friendly motor vehicles, including financial incentives and free charging points in a number of different localities. However, the success of these measures is still early days as it typically also requires a shift in mentality whilst also keeping in mind the relatively higher costs associated with these technologies. This said, there are some encouraging trends in this space, with the number of electric / hybrid vehicles in the second quarter of 2020 increasing by 2.7% over the first quarter of the year. Naturally more will have to be done over the next months and years to achieve more tangible results. More so, these efforts will become high on the country’s agenda when COVID-19 and the resulting need to restart the economy become less pressing and environmental issues take more of a center stage as the next biggest threat to humanity.    


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