Portugal leads the way

Portugal will become the first EU country to have electric cars from Renault and Nissan.

As part of an agreement with the two manufacturers signed on November 22 to create a national network for zero-emissions vehicles by 2011, 320 vehicle charging locations will be functioning across Portugal by 2010, growing to a total of 1,300 by the end of the following year.

Renault and Nissan will supply Portugal with electric cars from early 2011, around one year before the vehicles are scheduled to be marketed worldwide.

Portugal’s Prime Minister, José Sócrates, said that companies and individuals who buy electric cars will be exempt from road and other vehicle taxes. Individuals will also qualify for income tax benefits of up to 800 euros.

Despite low public spending, slow economic growth and the world financial crisis, which is discouraging governments from implementing EU plans to combat global warming, Portugal is working to produce up to 60 per cent of its electricity from wind, sun, wave and other clean energy sources by 2020.