Estonia just opened the world’s first national electric vehicle fast-charge network, and its success or failure could impact the future of electric vehicles globally. Estonian World:
The network, consisting of 165 fast chargers, was officially opened for use today; a single operator is responsible for the administration of all stations and the clients can use the same payment solution and technical support across the country.
Each Estonian town, as well as bigger villages now have their own fast chargers; the stations installed along highways maintain a minimum distance of 40 to 60 km.
Greens (and the head of Estonia’s EV network) like to protest that only poor infrastructure is keeping electric vehicles from taking off. But it isn’t just infrastructure that makes electric cars a poor substitute for gas-powered cars. A maximum driving distance of 140 km (about 87 miles) is tiny. Stopping every hour or so to charge for 30 minutes is inconvenient. And though it’s still too early to know for sure, one troubling sign for the nascent charging system is the low number of electric vehicles currently in use in the country: 619 electric cars roam the Estonian countryside, but about 500 of these are owned by the state.
But if electric vehicles can work anywhere, it will be in a small country that has invested heavily in the infrastructure to support them. Estonia fits the bill. It has now become the world’s de facto laboratory for electric vehicles. If they fail in Estonia, they won’t succeed anywhere.