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Government to back electric cars in Portugal

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PORTUGUESE CONSUMERS should be able to buy an environmentally friendly electric powered car by 2011.

That is the plan announced last week by Prime Minister José Sócrates who signed a pioneering protocol in Lisbon with Renault-Nissan.

So far, only Denmark and Israel have made similar commitments to non-polluting electrical cars, which would be capable of speeds of 145km/h and covering 160km before needing a change of battery at a service station.

Under the terms of the protocol, Portugal will, over the next three years, make detailed plans to become one of the leading countries in Europe, if not the world, producing, selling and using electric cars.

Renault-Nissan also guaranteed that it would be possible to develop and make available a wide variety of models with different characteristics in terms of comfort and extras as is presently available with the company’s conventional cars. The cars will run on powerful lithium batteries produced in partnership by Nissan-NEC.

Recharging facilities

The government, represented by José Sócrates and the Minister of the Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pinho, promised to guarantee the necessary battery recharging infrastructures throughout the country with the help of companies like EDP, Galp and Brisa.

Galp is looking at the viability of making battery recharging facilities available at its 800 filling stations throughout Portugal.

Also a number of companies including RWE, Endesa, EDF and EDP have already signed up to examine the development of the so-called G4V, Grid for Vehicle, system which could create an electric network for the new cars.

“The Portuguese government’s role is to make sure that the consumer can own and run an electrical vehicle without incurring any disadvantages in terms of price or mobility,” said José Sócrates.

The government said it was prepared to negotiate strategic partnerships with other car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and BMW.

“It is essential that we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and fight for greater energy self-sufficiency and autonomy in our country,” concluded the Prime Minister.