Electric Cars in Eastern Europe

A recent weekend trip to Gdańsk, Poland, provided another insight into the development of the EV market in other countries.

I’ve been visiting Gdańsk for over 10 years now (my wife’s family lives there), and I’ve not really noticed any electric vehicles at all until this most recent visit (I saw my first LEAF on the streets of Gdańsk this time!).

There have been some charge points installed across the Trojmiasto area (Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot) during the last year, including a few Rapid chargers. They are currently free to use (this is under review in March 2016). This is useful in a city where a large proportion of the population live in tenement blocks, without access to offroad private parking.

Screenshot 2016-01-20 15.15.38.png

One of the Rapid chargers has been installed at the Lotos fuel station, next to Multikino and Opera Bałtycka.

energa dc charger - multikino

It’s a simple DBT Rapid charger, fitted only with a CHAdeMO plug (good news for LEAF owners, not great for other brands), similar to those fitted at Nissan dealerships here in the UK.

There are also some slower 7kW chargers in other locations across the city, such as this one near to the Copernicus Hospital, ul Nowe Ogrody (the left charger is a 7kW Type 1 J1772 connector for use with the LEAF, the one on the right is a 22kW Type 2 charger for use with Renault’s Zoe).

poland leaf charging

However, a quick look at the map for the rest of Poland shows some fairly significant holes.

Screenshot 2016-01-20 15.56.34.png

eg. from Gdańsk to Łódź, it is around 340km (usually takes around 3hrs). The range of the new 30kWh Nissan LEAF, as quoted in laboratory conditions, is 250km. Therefore, you’d have to drive via Olsztyn (166km) where it could take you around 4 hours to charge at 7kW, then set off again towards Warsaw (213km – you’d be pushing the range really), charge on the Rapid for 30 minutes, then on to Łódź (130km). In total, you’d have covered 509km (an extra 169km than if you’d driven straight), and it would have taken an extra 3-4 hours of driving time, plus 4 or 5 hours of charging time.

This is very similar to how the UK charging network used to be back in 2011 when the LEAF first launched. Back then, there were few Rapid chargers, and the Ecotricity Electric Highway was only just being launched (see link!). Those early adopters had to contend with limited charging infrastructure, cars which had smaller batteries and limited range, yet still they spent the best part of £30,000 on the LEAF. Over the years, the infrastructure has improved drastically, and the electric cars can travel further between charges.

In fact, it’s getting to the point where the cars will have such large batteries that they don’t really need to stop to charge during their day-to-day journeys, and the use of mid-travel charging stops will become infrequent, as people just charge at home, or at work. So it will be interesting to see whether the charging network in Poland increases over the coming years, or whether the newer electric cars can simply manage with driving for longer distances without needing a charge. I suspect that it will be a bit of both.

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