The small Baltic countries are often overlooked, but, due to their proximity to Russia and their uniqueness, they deserve more attention.
Estonia Launches Its Program
Estonia, a small Baltic country in the northeast of Europe and one of the least populous states in the European Union with 1.3 million people, has started implementing its Electro Mobility Program. By the end of 2012 there should be nation-wide coverage, including Estonia's largest islands, so that owners of electric vehicles (EVs) can be within range of a fast charging service point anywhere in the country.
Estonia's Main Roads
200 Fast-Charger Service Stations By Fall 2012 (see Update below)
The first Terra 51 DC fast charging system has been installed in Tallinn, Estonia's capital, under the Electro Mobility Program, a partnership of the government and private enterprise. Another 168 locations have been announced and contracted for inner city and highway use. A total of 200 are planned to be installed by the autumn of 2012. Tallinn alone will have 27 fast charging points, while no two charging stations will be further than 30 miles apart on its main roads.
The Electro Mobility Program has three main partners: 1) ABB, a global power and automation technology group headquartered in Zurich Switzerland and employing 145,000 in 100 countries, 2) Kredex, a state-owned financial institution and 3) Estonia's Ministry of Economic Affairs.
ABB is providing its Terra 51 DC Fast Charger, a direct-current fast charging system that can charge an electric car in 15 to 30 minutes. It is a web-connected charger which can provide remote assistance, management, authorization and software upgradeability. ABB will also provide network support and the necessary backbone IT architecture. Terra 51s are manufactured in New Berlin, Wisconsin, but those installed in Estonia will be produced outside the U.S.
Kredex funds the Green Investment Scheme, part of the national government's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which, in turn, helps fund the Electro Mobility Program.
Tallinn, Estonia's Capital
Government Incentives and Deals
The Estonian government offers substantial incentives-- up to 50 percent-- for the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs), which tend to be very pricey. To further stimulate adoption of EVs, the government has 507 Mitsubishi iMiEV electric vehicles in its own fleet. The iMiEV is a five-door hatchback with a range of 80 to 100 miles (the European version has a range of about 90 miles) and costs around $45,000. The government of Estonia sold the Mitsubishi Corporation 10 million carbon dioxide credits in 2011. In return, Mitsubishi provided the 507 iMiEvs, subsidies for the first 500 electric cars (of any make) bought by private citizens, as well as funding for the Electro Mobility Program.
Map of Estonia
Estonia: First In The World
If the Electro Mobility Program succeeds, it will prove the viability of such large-scale EV charging networks. Estonia will be the first country in the world with a nation-wide EV infrastructure, allowing electric cars to drive anywhere in the country (except for its tiniest islands) and be in range of a charging station. This, in turn, will demonstrate the viability of all-electric vehicles and reduce “range anxiety”, a common concern of EV owners.
Update: Official Launch
On February 20, 2013, Estonia officially launched its nationwide electric car charging network-- the first country in the world to do so. ELMO (short for Estonia's ELectro MObility program) assures that no matter where drivers of electric vehicles are in Estonia, they are never further than 40 miles from one of the 165 charging stations, though most would be only a few miles distant. Most of the fast chargers take only 30 minutes for a 90% charge, though some can completely charge a vehicle in less time than that. Drivers can chose to pay for each charge (like paying for gasoline) or, for a flat fee of €30 (about $37) a month, they can enjoy the “all-you-can-drive electric buffet”.
Estonia has shown how to establish a network of recharging stations covering the entire country. They also offered a very generous incentive program for those people buying electric cars. When subsidies covering up to 50% of the vehicle’s cost ended in August 2014, the number of electric cars sold plummeted. It is apparent that, without such incentives, the cost of electric cars will remain an impediment even when a network of recharging stations is in place.
A Bit Commercial, But Interesting
© 2012 David Hunt
David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 23, 2012:
Thanks for commenting, Mhatter99. Sometimes you really have to dig for this stuff-- unless you're a glitzy Tesla Roadster, that is.
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 23, 2012:
good report. the truth of EV's is lost in the media
David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 21, 2012:
Hi, Larry. I'm not too familiar with the technology myself, but the iMiEV uses a lithium-titanate battery instead of lithium-ion and is supposed to withstand 2.5 times the charge/discharge cycles. There are a lot of challenges ahead so it will be interesting to see what happens. Estonia's harsh winters are also a factor. The current price and battery technology keeps me from trying it out, but more power to those willing to try 'eco-toy' technologies.
Larry Fields from Northern California on June 21, 2012:
I don't know what battery technology the EVs mentioned in your hub use. But if it's lithium, and if the batteries become completely discharged, then the your eco-toy will become a 'brick'. Then you'll need to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a new battery pack. This has already happened to a few Tesla Roadster owners in the USA. And no, it's not covered under warranty.
David Hunt (author) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 21, 2012:
Astra, thank you for commenting. Aye, there's the rub. But that's why the government also offers to cover up to 50% of the cost of those expensive things, though I don't know any details about the incentive. The price of electric cars has to come down, though, otherwise people can't afford them. People have to be able to recharge them, too. At least Estonia is doing something about that. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Cathy Nerujen from Edge of Reality and Known Space on June 21, 2012:
This was all looking so promising. Then I saw the price for the electric car. $45,000. No way. That is ridiculous. No wonder there are so many charge points in the country. The buyers of these cars are all paying for them out of the car's price. How can people afford those prices there?