Jan 182012

Largest No. fast-charging stations

The Baltic state of Estonia looks set to be the most eco-friendly country in Europe when it comes to electric vehicles, with the country having announced plans to install the largest network of fast-charging stations by the end of this year.

Estonia location in Europe Map * in Red *

Estonia location in Europe Map * in Red *

The plan will see the country install about 200 ‘Terra’ charging stations by the end of June, which would be operational by December. Estonia has come to an agreement with ABB, the Swiss power company, to install its super-fast chargers which can fully recharge a car battery in between 15 to 30 minutes. These run on direct current, as opposed to slower home chargers which use alternating current.

Charging stations to reduce air and noise pollution

ABB’s popular chargers were first launched in the middle of 2010, since which time they have sold well in Europe as cities have looked to introduce networks of charging stations to reduce air – and noise – pollution in a bid to become greener. Austria notably began to install these chargers in October last year, while the Netherlands saw a nationwide trial beginning in November in which two different kinds of ABB fast-chargers were placed in petrol stations run by BP. Further afield, the Swiss power company was selected as the supplier of a network of charging stations in the university district of the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which borders with Hong Kong.

Charger to be placed every 50kms

Estonia’s ambitions extend farther than most nations, however. One of the smallest countries within the European Union, Estonia is aiming to place a Terra charger every 50kms, which would create the highest concentration of direct-current chargers anywhere on the continent by some distance.

Generous tax relief

Part of Estonia’s recent progress in the green car arena has been due to the generous tax relief and incentives the country is offering private companies and individuals who wish to invest in green automotive technology. The government provides subsidies of up to half of a purchase for private buyers of EV cars or related equipment, and major projects that involve these technologies are financed by KredEx, the export credit agency.

Mitsubishi i-Miev for social workers

In addition, the Estonian government started last year to offer Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars to domestic social workers across the country. So far, more than 500 of these cars have been provided. These vehicles, first unveiled in Japan in 2009, have a range of at least 100kms on one full charge. Once the new ABB fast-chargers are installed later this year, these vehicles will be easily drivable around the country.

Mitsubishi i-Miev - Electric Car

Mitsubishi i-Miev - Electric Car

Estonia to lead the way

This week’s announcement of the new network by ABB suggests governments are increasingly becoming aware of the necessity of charger technology to make electric vehicles a viable alternative to petrol and diesel cars. Although technology has made electric vehicles more powerful and capable of longer ranges, not to mention vehicle chargers have become much faster in recent years, in isolation these technologies have proven not to be enough to persuade a surge of consumers to invest in expensive electric vehicles. The main problem has been range, and issue which has been hindered by a lack of fast chargers. The government in Estonia is therefore set to become the first in Europe to address this problem seriously.

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