Government okays electric car charging network plan

The Latvian government on Tuesday approved a Transport Ministry plan to establish a nationwide network of electric car charging points.

However, there is still a long way to go before the plan becomes reality, with 2022 given as the hoped-for completion date.

"In order to promote environmentally friendly means of transport and thereby reduce pollution as well as the use of fossil fuels, [it is proposed] to establish a Latvian national network of 235 electric charging stations," the Transport Ministry said in a news release.

The project will cost €8.34m, of which €7.09m will be provided by European regional development funds.

The intention is to position charging points along major and minor roads so that drivers of electric vehicles will always be able to charge up.

Presently there are only 11 electric vehicle charging stations available to the public, six of them in Riga and the remainder in smaller towns spread across the country, making long-distance travel impractical.

That perhaps explains why electric cars remain a rare sight with just 194 of them registered at the start of the year.

The Transport Ministry hopes building the network will provide a stimulus to the market for electric cars.

Latvia's northern neighbor, Estonia, has been a pioneer in the field of electric car charging points. Its Elmo network of 135 charging points has already been operational for more than 2 years.

The good news is that when Latvia's own network is complete, it will create a considerable space in which electric vehicles can operate. Who will be first to drive from Riga to Tallinn on electric power?

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