Will Portugal Become a Leader in the Electric Car Industry?



Portugal is a country with a problem: it has no domestic coal, natural gas, or oil resources, so Western Europe’s poorest nation is forced to import most of it’s energy. The quandary makes the country an ideal candidate for renewable energy, and in fact Portugal already produces over a third of its energy from renewable sources. Now the country is taking its commitment to renewable a step further by setting goals for a nationwide recharging network for electric cars.

In Prime Minister Jose Socrates’s ambitious Mobi-E network plan, Portugal will have 1,300 charging stations scattered around the country by 2011, with 230 running by 2010 and 100 ready by the end of this year. It’s an optimistic plan considering Portugal just installed its first station last week. But Renault-Nissan claims that Portugal will be one of the first markets for its EV when it is released in 2011, and the company is investing $355 million in a Portuguese plant that will produce 60,000 lithium-ion batteries for PHEVs and EVs each year. In other words, Renault-Nissan is taking Portugal’s plans seriously.

Portugal plans to encourage consumers to buy electric by offering the first 5,000 buyers of PHEVs a $7,100 price cut. Companies will receive tax breaks on electric cars in their fleets as well, and the Portuguese government expects to have 20% of all new public vehicles converted to battery power by 2011. As a result of these initiatives, Portugal estimates that it will have up to 180,000 electric cars on the streets by 2020 with a recharging network of 25,000 stations.

Germany has a similarly ambitious plan. The country, which has about eight times the population of Portugal, hopes to put one million electric cars on the road by 2020.

[Via Reuters]

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more