Estonia, a small country located in the Baltic region of northern Europe, becomes the first in the world to offer a public and nation-wide charging network for electric vehicles - with an easy subscription-based payment method.
The network consists of 165 fast chargers that allows a car's battery to be charged up to 90 percent in less than 30 minutes. The fast charges have been installed in every Estonian town and in the larger villages. Charging stations have also been built along highways with a minimum distance of 40 to 60 km between each of them.
Because the public charging network is managed by a single operator customers will be able to access the same technical support and payment solution across the country. People charging their electric cars at one of these stations will be offered two different payment solutions. They can either choose to pay on a per-charge basis, where a single charge will cost between €2.5 and €5, or they can choose to subscribe to a monthly €30 fee with unlimited charges throughout the country.
"What makes the Estonian fast charging network unique is the fact that it uses a uniform payment solution and you can either use an authorisation card or your mobile phone for making the payment. We believe, that a nationwide grid of quick chargers encourages growth in the number of EV users, since the drivers no longer need to worry about a somewhat shorter driving range of their electric vehicles," said Jarmo Tuisk, head of the Estonia electric vehicle (EV) programme.
There are 619 electric vehicles registered in Estonia, the majority of these are used by state authorities. This may not seem like much, but it's worth remembering that Estonia is a small country with a population of only a little over a million people. In fact, it's one of the least-populous nations of the European Union. Despite this, Estonia has become the second country in the world in terms of share of electric vehicles. And the country now also offers the world's largest public fast-charging network.
The construction of the fast-charging network started this past summer and has already been used more than 8300 times. Besides investing in a public fast-charging network, the government of Estonia also offers incentives for both private persons and companies that wish to buy plug-in electric vehicles. People interested in buying a new electric vehicle can receive up to €18000 in government subsidies for the purchase. And existing EV owners can receive €1000 for setting up a charging system at their home.