Even though we’ve been following GreenWay’s development since before it entered Poland, I was surprised to get the news that it recently opened its 100th EV fast charger in Poland — even before Fastned hit that target! Additionally, I’ve found it surprising and uplifting to learn about broader EV fast charging development in Poland and nearby countries, with the news mostly coming to me from fellow Tesla Shuttle cofounders Jacek Fior and Tomek Gać. After checking out a brand new fast charger down the street from me with Tomek, who was visiting in a Renault Zoe, and talking to him about it (video coming), I decided to do a whole piece on this topic. Below is my interview with Jacek about how electric vehicle charging has evolved in recent years.
How has charging evolved in Poland in the last 3–5 years?
It evolved from nothing to a well-developed network. Because of EU grants, we had single charging stations in Poland 4–5 years ago but we didn’t have any EVs (a few only). It all started about three years ago with GreenWay developing their network of fast chargers and others followed suit, including state-owned petrol companies. Adding hotels to the picture, and they are quickly learning what makes customers happy, we are on a good track to success.
Naturally, it’s easy for people to charge at home in small towns and villages. How easy or challenging is charging in bigger cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Łódź, and Wrocław?
As optimistic as I am with fast and medium-fast charging networks, I am less optimistic about home charging. Of course, if you live in a house, it’s obvious. However, Poland’s dominant form of dwelling is blocks of flats. There are legal regulations for new buildings, especially commercial ones, but nothing for existing buildings. Most people face the nuisance of convincing neighbors, administration, etc. I’m afraid it will take a while before we develop a system of obliging building administration to provide charging points for EV users.
How much could an average driver save from driving an electric car versus a gasoline car? What about a high-kilometer driver?
A lot. 🙂 I’m not very good with all the kWh calculations, but I know it is way cheaper even if you charge at home with your regular payment plan.
There are different networks in different places. How hard is it to drive from Poland to other countries in the region in an electric car?
As GreenWay is part of a larger group, their card opens more doors. Still, we need roaming solutions with one card that rules them all.
Are there any big “dead zones” in the charging infrastructure in Poland, any regions or routes that are particularly bad yet commonly traveled?
Hard to say — with my optimism, I know I can find a charging point everywhere, but not everyone is so adventurous. Looking at PlugShare, I know there are very few, if any, fast chargers along route 6 in the north of Poland – connecting major cities in the seaside area. Perhaps soon.
How adequate is the charging infrastructure for high-kilometer businesses like taxis, shuttles, and courier services?
That is an area for systematic improvements – commercial EV users need to plan for their own charging networks, as taxis may successfully block charging stations from other users. Such situations are already seen in Warsaw and Wrocław and generate certain tensions. I’d say businesses should make sure they coexist on this market without using their dominant position
There are now a lot of free charging stations at Orlen and Lotos gas stations. How long do you expect such stations to remain free?
That is a difficult question. State companies are not very famous for being budget-driven. They spend money that is not their own and they can run projects without a financial justification simply for political gain. I think the more the stations are used, the quicker they will stop being free. Let’s use them and put pressure on being market-driven. It’s critical for other commercial operators who need to count every penny and they are the ones who will shape the future market, not the state operators.
Are there any specific cars you recommend or don’t recommend because of their charging capabilities (or lack thereof)?
Not an expert here. Considering most of my charging happens and will happen at home, I am happy with any EV as long as I can afford to have one.
All images by Tesla Shuttle and CleanTechnica
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