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Portugal creates electric car recharging network

Jun 29, 2009 - The Associated Press

Lisbon - Portugal announced a plan Monday to install about 1,300 recharging sites for electric vehicles over the next two years, part of an effort to create a mass market for environmentally friendly electric cars expected to go on sale next year.

The center-left Socialist government is aiming to reduce energy imports and emissions.

Having no oil or coal, Portugal has long imported most of its energy. However, in recent years it has become a European pioneer in the development of clean energy. The government claims renewable sources can already meet 43 percent of the country's electricity needs.

The first phase of deployment will include recharging sites in 21 cities and rural districts chosen for their high population density and traffic volume, the Economy and Innovation Ministry said in a statement.

The sites are to be established at gas stations, shopping malls and wired parking spots, among other places. The network is being built by a consortium of five companies, the government said.

The government has promised tax breaks to encourage the purchase of zero-emission vehicles, and local authorities say they will provide special parking areas in cities for them.

Clients will be offered a slow recharge taking up to eight hours or a faster version lasting less than 30 minutes. Prices were not given.

Electric car projects have for years been dogged by doubts about their feasibility. One of the main complaints has been the lack of widespread recharging sites which could limit their use.

The government predicts Portugal could have 180,000 battery-powered cars on the roads by 2020. By that time, there could be 25,000 recharging sites, it says.