With the installation of Islamabad and Pakistan’s first Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station, the government has officially crossed the first milestone in rolling out its national EV policy. There is quite naturally a lot of ground to cover still, since the principle of sustainable travel—the cornerstone of the EV policy and the reason for its existence—will only be achievable once this policy has been effectively implemented.

The two stumbling blocks that the government must overcome however, might prove to be difficult hurdles to cross. For an effective EV policy, two things are needed for success; a nationwide charging system and both demand and supply for cost-effective electric vehicles.

The first of these, although expensive, is still easy to set up. Fuel stations can be retrofitted to include charging docks for electric vehicles, and consumers can set up charging stations at their own homes as well, to manage travel requirements.

But charging stations are only needed if a market for electric vehicles exists in the first place, which is not the case currently. And this is where the bigger challenge presents itself; globally the EV market is currently structured in a way where only high-end manufacturers are producing electric cars, and price is a major concern when the purchase of an EV is under consideration.

Wealth is concentrated into the hands of a few, and the average Pakistani’s purchasing power is on the lower end of the scale compared to other countries. The biggest question mark on the government’s hopes of bringing in a thriving EV market is regarding how the average consumer will afford a vehicle that is usually in the same price range as the most luxurious cars available on the international market. This is a problem that developed countries are also struggling with, but will be more pronounced here at home.

Nevertheless, perhaps the government is not hoping that the EV industry will successfully replace fossil fuel-based vehicles. As long as EVs have a presence in Pakistan, the country has room to research and find new, cost-effective measures to bring cheaper alternatives to existing EVs. Until then, this policy is only likely to benefit a select few.