In 2009, the public Portuguese electric vehicle charging network MOBI.E was inaugurated. It was a top priority of the at the time Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates of the Socialist Party (PS). Portugal wanted to lead the electric car revolution.
Suddenly all changed in 2011, in part because of the International Debt Crisis, but also by his own mistakes, José Sócrates lost the elections and Pedro Passos Coelho of the right-wing party (PSD) was elected Prime Minister.
Passos Coelho represented the right-wing inside an already right-wing party and as soon as he was elected he forgot all of his campaign promises. The income inequality gap rose noticeably, unemployment and taxes also reached alarming levels.
Furthermore, not only the Environment hasn’t a priority, the electric car was even despised – since it was regarded as a personal project of the former Prime Minister, it had to be forgotten. Then in late 2011 Nissan dropped the plans to build a battery plant in Portugal, which was expected to start production in 2012. It was the end of a dream.
During the four years of the right-wing government – as expected -, rich got richer, poor got poorer. German ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) luxury car sales were at record levels and the Portuguese Government even awarded Audi A4 and A6 cars in some crazy fiscal lottery.
Ultimately the charging network was abandoned and was left without maintenance, most EVSEs (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) were vandalized and didn’t work. It wasn’t easy to have an electric car in Portugal.
Fortunately, in 2015 with new elections, António Costa from the Socialist Party (PS) formed a progressive alliance with the Communist Party (PCP), Anti-capitalist Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda) and the Greens (Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes”) and was nominated Prime Minister.
António Costa’s first priorities were social, he cut taxes for low-income families, raised minimum wage, reduced unemployment and the income inequality. This progressive alliance financed all these social measures mostly by increasing taxes for ICE cars and fossil fuels. The right-wing parties were mad and constantly tried to demonstrate that these measures were bad for everyone. However, the left government’s popularity is extremely high and keeps increasing, while the opposition is desperate – and even controlling the mainstream media doesn’t help much -, since the two right-wing parties’ popularity is at record low.
Current Prime Minister, António Costa was always a vocal supporter of electric cars that are seen as essential to reduce external dependence on foreign oil. Now that more urgent social problems are solved, repairing and upgrading the charging network is a priority.
The MOBI.E’s charging network is still very concentrated in Portugal’s biggest cities, Lisbon and Porto, furthermore it is still composed mainly by slow 3,68 kW EVSEs. The 3,68 kW EVSEs made sense in 2009, – when only the Nissan Leaf MK1 and Mitsubishi i-MiEV could be ordered – but not in 2017. The more modern 22 kW EVSEs exist but are very scarse, since they were mainly installed for the Renault Zoe presentation to European journalists.
Anyways, starting from August, the 100 most used EVSEs will be replaced by new 22 kW EVSEs and each will have two charging type 2 sockets, enabling the simultaneous charge of two electric cars.
Furthermore, 202 new 22 kW EVSEs (404 type 2 sockets) will be installed, one for each municipality where the charging network isn’t present yet. When this expansion is completed the MOBI.E charging network will be present in the whole country, within all of its 308 municipalities – 278 in mainland Portugal and 30 in the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.
Before the year’s end MOBI.E plans to have 1.700 type 2 sockets and 50 DC fast chargers available across this small country. The DC fast chargers will mostly be present at highway service stations.
An electric car with a 22 kW internal charger, such as the Renault Zoe, will benefit greatly from these improvements. I really hope that Nissan present us the second generation Leaf in Europe with this kind of charger.
How is the charging network of your country developing? Please comment below.