Towards clean traffic with electric vehicles

While Finland strives to become carbon neutral by 2035, the City of Helsinki is investing in this with its own carbon neutrality goal. One of its key measures is to decrease traffic emissions.

Written by Riitta Alakoski Photos by Otavamedia

- In addition to heating, traffic is usually among the major sources of emissions, both in Helsinki and elsewhere, says Senior Specialist Karoliina Auvinen from the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.  

In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, one car emits an average of 160 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven. From the perspective of climate change, the technological transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is happening too slowly, according to Auvinen. Last year, only one percent of all vehicles used in traffic in Finland were electric or gas-powered cars. Most of them are in use in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. 

- If Finland wants to achieve its carbon neutrality goal for traffic, every new vehicle now sold should run on electricity or biogas. Technological transition usually takes a decade or more. Right now, we need to achieve change much more rapidly, Auvinen says.  

Electric cars and their batteries generate more emissions during the manufacturing stage than cars with combustion engines, but it only takes them a few years to close the gap with regard to lifecycle emissions. Auvinen advises that the different options can be easily compared, for example online at ilmastopaneeli.fi/autokalkulaattori. In addition to the emissions, the lifecycle costs of the different vehicles can also be compared with the help of this calculator.  

- Electric cars are already more affordable than cars with combustion engines when it comes to lifecycle costs. More affordable alternatives for electric cars are now on the market, and used electric cars have also started to become available.  

According to Auvinen, promoting the growth of electric vehicles is now in the hands of politicians, both at national and local level. 

- During the initial stages, the key measures from cities include building the vehicle charging infrastructure and providing temporary lane advantages and cheaper parking fees. For example, there are more than 50,000 electric cars in Oslo. Their taxation is more affordable, they have cheaper road tolls and permission to drive in lanes and areas where cars with combustion engines are not allowed.  

Heka has taken note of the future growth of electric traffic. 

- It has been clearly identified as one of the transport modes of the future, says Heka’s Property Director Vesa Jurmu.  

Heka is building charging points at all of its new construction sites. In addition to this, charging points have been added to sites undergoing renovations as well as few other individual locations based on the demand from tenants.  

- For now, demand has remained low. It seems we are at a pilot stage, looking for experiences of how the entire system is working: how sufficient the existing cables are, does the technology work, how is the electricity invoiced for to the customer, and so forth, Jurmu says.  

Charging opportunities at Heka locations 

  • Heka is building charging points at all of its new construction sites.  
  • There are now about 50 charging points that are located at fewer than ten locations.  
  • The charging points are parking space-specific, which means that they are only available to the tenant renting the space.  
  • Heka’s public charging point is located at Kuusikkotie 4.