State tentatively moving back into electric vehicle purchase support

An electric car charging station (picture is illustrative).
An electric car charging station (picture is illustrative). Source: Eckelt//Caro/Scanpix

State support for electric vehicles is likely to be reestablished in Estonia, though not to the extent of an earlier, now-defunct scheme, and only to higher-volume users, meaning in practice probably business users.

The support, which is set to total €1.2 million, is projected to facilitate around a couple of hundred purchases of electric vehicles, to the tune of between €4,000 and €6,000 per vehicle, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

No date has yet been set for the new initiative, though it is hoped that it will be operating some time in the third quarter of this year, according to environment ministry climate department manager Getlyn Denks.

"The measures need to be thoroughly thought through, to ensure they are transparent and comprehensible," Denks said.

"The main objective is to encourage the introduction of fully electric vehicles, in particular for high-use, urban-driven vehicles. This will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emmissions in the transport sector, as well as cutting ambient air pollutants," she added.

However, some qualification has to be applied to the development. Support for private, every-day users and for hybrid vehicles will probably not yet be forthcoming, it is reported, and hybrid vehicles still have to use the regular traffic lanes in Tallinn, for instance (fully electric vehicles are permitted to use bus lanes).

Nonetheless, according to one car dealer, interest in electric vehicles has been high, if tempered by high-ish prices and recharging issues, with some charging stations not equipped with the most up-to-date technology.

"Another consideration is infrastructure," said Janek Eskor, of Topauto dealership in Tallinn.

"Some electric cars have ranges up to 200 km, among older models, so if a proper charging network is lacking, this certainly complicates things, since people have to plan their activities in advance," he continued.

Nissan Estonia marketing director Henri Daum concurred the pricing and recharging issues were a concern, though there were plenty of positive aspects to electric cars.

"The plusses are definitely the environmental aspect, particularly in towns. Electric cars don't emit carbon dioxide and other gases. They operate much more quietly, and pollute less, in urban enviromnents. They are also comfortable, with very good acceleration, and smooth and capable handling qualities," Daum said.

A previous governmental program in 2012 to subsidize electric car purchases was something of a flop, only attracting a small number of applicants from a budgeted 500. Electric vehicle technology has naturally moved on since then.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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