165 charging points around the country will use direct current to charge cars in less than 30 minutes: Estonia's reputation as one of the most wired-up countries in Europe has been boosted further with the opening of what is being billed as the world's first nationwide electric car charging network.
The sparsely populated Baltic state with a population of just 1.3 million hopes the 165 "fast chargers" will overcome the "chicken and egg" problem facing the take-up of electric cars worldwide. The network of charging points, which was opened officially on Wednesday but has been running for several months, uses direct current (DC) to charge cars in less than 30 minutes, rather than around eight hours to recharge a car's battery as is the case with most of the more than 3,000 points in the UK.
There are believed to be around 650 electric cars in Estonia, more than 500 of which were Mitsubishi i-MiEVs given to social workers by the government in 2011. Motorists can get grants of up to€18,000 (£15,700) off electric cars, compared to the £5,000 cap for the UK's electric car grant. The average full price for a new electric car is around £30,000.