In 2010 Portugal had probably the best electric vehicle charging network in the World. Making Portugal a leader in electric car field was a personal project of José Sócrates from the Socialist Party (PS) when he was Prime Minister. Nissan even had plans to build a battery plant able to produce 50.000 EV batteries per year.
But in 2011 everything changed, the country had get financial “help” from FMI and the new right-wing government took over. The new government left the charging network without funds for maintenance and the charging stations were abandon and vandalized, most stopped working. There were also 50 DC fast chargers that were left closed in a warehouse that were never installed. The 5.000 € incentive to buy an electric car was also removed. Then Nissan decided that it wasn’t a good idea to build the battery plant in Portugal. The electric car was being killed.
While the right wing government was taking funds from electric cars, it was spending a lot of money in gas luxury German cars.
Fortunately in 2015, with new elections the right-wing parties didn’t got enough votes to form a government and the progressive forces took over. The Socialist Party led by António Costa – a big electric car supporter – was backed by The Greens (Os Verdes), Communists (PCP) and the anti-capitalism party Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda). To this new left government electric cars are a priority to help the country regain some external independence by reducing oil imports.
Now the charging network is finally getting maintenance and the 50 DC fast chargers that were locked in a warehouse are being installed. The charging network will get more 124 chargers until the year-end to complement the already installed 1.076 chargers. Until 2018 more 404 chargers will be added to the network.
We call them chargers, but most are just level 2 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) that supply alternating current (AC) to electric car’s internal charger. Since currently most public level 2 EVSEs are limited to 3,6 kW, it would be a good idea to replace the non working with 22 kW EVSEs.
Currently charging in the public network is free, but this will end in 2017 when the charging network leave the pilot phase and become fully operational.
If you want to visit Portugal in an electric car, the good news is that this charging network is unified, it means that the same smartcard works in every charger, the operator doesn’t matter.