The electric and hybrid car trend is gradually finding its way to Slovakia. Their number on Slovak roads is also increasing thanks to a €5 million support scheme for their purchase extended until mid-2018. This increases demand on infrastructure, i.e. places where drivers can re-charge their vehicles.
Experts assess the current network of public charging stations in the country as quite satisfactory, since they enable travelling by e-car from Bratislava to Košice via the D1 cross-country highway with enough places to re-charge.
In Bratislava itself, there are more than 30 charging stations of various parameters while the construction of dozens more are being planned. Experts consider this number as adequate for now.
“One should realise that the owners of car with batteries re-charge them mostly at home while they especially use public charging stations when travelling longer distances and not within ordinary operation in the city,” said Juraj Bakša, editor-in-chief of the website teslamagazon.sk dedicated to e-cars with a focus on Tesla cars. He added that public charging stations also serve those drivers travelling to or via Bratislava.
Nevertheless, experts call for the building of new charging stations, either to cover blind spots or enable parallel charging at already existing stations.
“When building new charging stations it is necessary to take into consideration the time people spend on charging,” said Ján Tencer from GreenWay, a Slovak company operating a network of charging stations in Slovakia. “So charging stations should be built not just where people need to charge their car quickly, i.e. at rest stops on highways, but where slower charging would be enough. This means on public parking lots, at hotels or near places where people work.”
Charging stations are heavily lacking in housing estates. So Michal Chadaba from eautoportal.sk, another website dedicated to e-cars and related infrastructure, sees that the challenge for 2018 is to enable people to re-charge their cars at home.
“An owner of an e-car living in a house does not have any problem with this, but when he/she is living in a high block of flats, he/she simply has no place to charge the car,” Chadaba told The Slovak Spectator.
The possibility of charging the car at home or while at work, i.e. for significantly lower prices than at paid public quick-charging stations, is a precondition for the purchase of an electric car to be worth it.
“As long as you charge your electric car only at fast chargers, then the operation of an electric car, compared with a car with conventional combustion propulsion, is even more expensive,” Peter Ševce, director of the Slovak Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA), told The Slovak Spectator.
The recommended ratio of charging from a home plug and paid fast charger is 80:20 and for driving 17,000 kilometres at least. In such a case the operation costs of an e-car is roughly one third compared to a conventional one.
Where to charge in Bratislava
There is no an unambiguous answer to the simple question of where public charging stations are located in Bratislava. This is because current Slovak legislation does not exactly define what a charging station is because theoretically each plug is a charging station, specified Ševce. This should change since parliament is expected to pass an amendment to the current legislation with such a definition in a few months.
For now the best information source about charging stations are communities of e-car enthusiasts, who collect and share information on charging stations.