Hey, when your country has the population the size of San Diego's and you've got a bit of a head start, you can pull this stuff off.

Estonia, the former Soviet republic that's north of Latvia and across the Baltic Sea from Finland, has completed what it says is the world's largest network of fast-charging stations in an attempt to seriously boost plug-in vehicle adoption. The country is used to being an early adopter, earning the nickname e-stonia because of its love for high-speed Internet and electronic voting.

Estonia, through its Electromobility in Estonia program (ELMO), has completed installations of 165 fast-charging CHAdeMO stations across the country. In addition to including many city locations, the network, which is handled by a single operating entity, is spacing its stations 25-35 miles apart on the highways. ELMO says its stations can provide a 90-percent charge in about 30 minutes and cost between $3.50 to $7 a charge. If you spend a lot of time in your EV, there's also a $40-a-month unlimited charging option.

The country, which has about 1.3 million people, boasts about 600 EVs, or one per every 1,000 vehicles. Estonia says its trying to play catch-up with Norway, where EVs are about four times more prevalent. ELMO started its CHAdeMO station installations last summer. Read the ELMO press release below and check here for a map.
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A fast-charging network makes Estonia the first country in the world where you can easily drive your EV around in towns or in the countryside without worrying about the driving range or pollution.

The network, consisting of 165 CHAdeMO-standard 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.

The EV users have three service packages to choose from, the cost of one charging is between 2.5 and 5 euros. However, you can also choose paying a 30 euro fee for a monthly package and charge your EV as often as you want with no extra cost. The car's battery can be charged up to 90% in less than 30 minutes and – depending on the model – you will be able to drive for up to 140 km. The installation of fast chargers started in summer 2012 and they have been used 8,300 times so far.

According to the head of the Estonia's EV programme, Mr Jarmo Tuisk, it was the lack of a proper fast charging infrastructure that hindered a more widespread use of electric vehicles until now.

"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.

The EV fast-charging network is operated by a national Foundation KredEx, the chargers were produced and installed by a technology company ABB, the innovative payment solution was designed by NOW Innovations!, and customer support is provided by a security company G4S. Tallinn University of Technology adds a research dimension to the project by analysing the use of battery-powered cars and the charging network itself. That sets good preconditions for bringing electromobility R&D know-how together in Estonia.

The construction of the fast-charging network was financed by using the funds received pursuant to a CO2 emission quota sales agreement entered into between the Republic of Estonia and Mitsubishi Corporation.

Besides having a public fast-charging network, Estonia promotes a quicker deployment of EVs by providing direct support to both private persons and companies, with the amount reaching up to 18,000 euros of the all-electric car's purchasing price. Also, new EV owners can apply for a support of 1,000 euros for setting up a charging system at their home.

According to CHAdeMO, an organisation supporting the fast-charging standard, by January 2013 more than 1,900 fast chargers have been installed in the world, 521 of them outside Japan. Estonia with its 165 fast chargers now has the world's largest operational public fast-charging network providing a universal nationwide service.

There are 619 all-electric cars registered in the Estonian traffic register, whereas about 500 of these are used by several state authorities. Over a short time, Estonia has become the second country after Norway in the world in terms of the share of EVs. While there is one electric car registered per each 1,000 cars in Estonia, the respective figure for Norway is four. Estonia is followed by the Netherlands with 0.6 electric cars registered per 1,000 cars.

Please visit http://elmo.ee/charging-network/ to find additional information about the Estonia's EV programme and the locations of the fast chargers.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Also these current electric chargers may all need rebuilding because EU is leaning toward adopting different standards: http://www.ekspress.ee/news/paevauudised/eestiuudised/brussel-karsatab-eesti-elektriautode-projekti.d?id=65605578
      • 2 Years Ago
      @eestlane, I will be first to admin that the current crop of EVs takes awhile to heat up and loses range in winter, even in much sunnier Virginia, USA - but they somehow made it work in Norway, so it should not be an obstacle impossible to overcome. Having chargers evenly spaced along highways should help it a lot. A war of standards is, of course, not helping. And partnering with a single manufacturer may not be the best of ideas. Still, I applaud you guys for taking such a bold step.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am from Estonia and I have to say this is all big bullcrap. Yes we have bunch of chargers, but people hate electric cars, I am driving quite frequently and have never seen anyone to charge electric car, anywhere. Our government made a much-hyped, but very stupid deal with Mitsubishi, who provided us bunch of shitty small uncomfortable electric cars called Mitsubishi I-Miev. We had generous rebates for electric car buyers, but no-one wanted those even with rebates, cause in our cold winter weather their range was only 20 miles, cars didnt heat up properly and failed all the time. So government had to give cars to social workers, who mostly work at the countryside and complain all the time how they cannot reach to the people in need because of range and weather issues, so they have borrow proper cars.
      • 2 Years Ago
      You know what else makes cross country EV travel easy? Being a country the size of Maryland.
        • 2 Years Ago
        And yet traveling cross-state in the USA would be challenging in a lot of the smaller states. They don't have a fast-charging network in Michigan or Ohio that I know of. There are plenty of Level 2 chargers in some areas, but there are stretches of highway that don't have anything. I didn't know Estonia spoke English. Their website is pretty interesting. I kind of like the cell-phone model for paying for the charging station network and the power. Maybe once it is all paid off and they build a few wind turbines and solar panels to provide power, then the prices would come down (or charge you by the kWh).
          Actionable Mango
          • 2 Years Ago
          Maybe their website is English, but I'm reasonably sure the official language is Estonian.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      They have a ton of chademo stations in Estonia. Highest concentration in the world, even above Japan. Very nice. You can drive anywhere in the country and not be concerned about running out. Just a shame the standards war is going on
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Estonia has installed 165 ChaDeMo chargers? SAE just got slapped in the face.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does anyone else see the irony of using a photograph of a plugin hybrid with an all electric range of 13 miles in an article about DC fast chargers?
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