Although the state is distributing 507 electric cars for use by social workers throughout Estonia, some local governments in the northeastern part of the country have not applied for them due to skepticism about the environmentally-friendly vehicles.
Maintenance costs and the cars' reliability on often difficult countryside roads are the main concerns of local authorities.
"A financial base is needed for keeping such vehicles. Unfortunately we do not have maintenance centers and therefore our town does not need such cars," Jevgeni Solovjov, mayor of Kohtla-Järve, told ERR radio.
The authorities of the Vaivara rural municipality in Ida-Viru County have also stated that they will not apply for the vehicles. "The car must be able to go through snow, blizzards and dirt, both on gravel and asphalt roads, and the [size] of these cars does not instill confidence in us," said Veiko Luhalaid, Vaivara elder.
The town of Narva also initially declared that it is not interested in acquiring the green vehicles, but after some time changed its stance and applied for one. "We are very realistic and understand that if something is given for free, we have to determine how much [maintaining] it will cost us," said Narva Mayor Aleksander Ljudvig, adding that the local social workers are used to making their house calls by foot.
Nevertheless, some municipalities have warmly welcomed the alternative cars. For example, the town of Sillamäe has applied for three vehicles, while Narva-Jõesuu has also pledged to submit a request.
"We are aware that the maintenance cost of electric cars is 25 percent less than that of normal [petroleum-powered] vehicles, and we will cover those costs ourselves," said Andres Noormägi, mayor of Narva-Jõesuu.
Local authorities have until September 3 to apply to receive the vehicles.