Charging network in Baltics

baltic

Summer is here and you might be thinking about your vacation. If you plan the trip through the Baltics with your electric car, this article is for you. The road through Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania/Poland is very good in terms of road quality, but there are no chargers with “great” reliability – usually, it’s just one stand with one AC plug and one DC plug. If it’s broken or occupied, be prepared for a fallback plan to find an alternative charger.

General Tips

  • Plan the trip first. You can use A Better Route Planner, however, make sure you have at least 15%-20% battery left to reach the next charger if the current one is broken or occupied.
  • If the DC charger is broken, try to call the phone number on the charger. There is EU-wide roaming so the calls are generally cheap; the call support should speak English and may be able to reboot the charger remotely, fixing the issue.
  • If the DC charger is occupied and you can not wait, try to find the nearest charging station via PlugShare and take a break there. However, if that one is broken, you may be forced to call a towing service or find the next charger.
  • It’s best to prefer city-based chargers since there are generally many more alternative chargers around.

From my experience all chargers worked (none were broken) and were mostly unoccupied; only in 1/5 of times the chargers were occupied and I had to wait 15 minutes on average.

Tesla Superchargers

There are no Tesla superchargers in the Baltic states as of now, neither there are any chargers above Warsaw in Poland. The superchargers are planned and should be erected soon. You can see the official Tesla Supercharger Map to get more information.

The SuperCharge.info receives updates from Tesla user community and thus keeps most up-to-date charger map.

Estonia

Volt (used to be called Elmo previously) operates a large network of chargers in Estonia, basically covering the entire country. The DC speed is 50kW and the prices are as follows:

  • DC Type 1: 50kW CHAdeMO 0,24 €/kWh; after 60 min 0.1 €/min penalty is charged.
  • AC: 22kW Type 2 0,22 €/kWh; after 180 min 0.05 €/min penalty is charged.

WARNING: Volt chargers do not provide Type 2 CCS connectors – they only offer CHAdeMO and Type 1 CCS! Type 2 charging is AC-only 22kW, which is further limited down by your car. For example for Tesla Model 3 you’ll either need a CHAdeMO adapter (I’m not sure whether such a thing even exists), or charge from Type 2 AC slowly at 11kW speed.

Virta operates/roams a couple of chargers in Estonia, and the one in Parnu is a 50kW free-to-use charger right next to a Hesburger – worth a stop. Often occupied by the local taxi drivers though.

PlugSurfing shows no possible roaming. Shell Recharge only shows charger in Parnu and Talinn and the price is horrible – 0,6€/kWh.

If you do not have the RFID, or you don’t have CHAdeMO port, or you can’t charge for other reason, the best way is to charge up upfront, skip charging in Estonia and charge in Latvia; nearest charger in Latvia is just 200km from Tallinn (the Ainazi charger on Latvia borders). However, try stopping in Parnu and charge for free if the charger is available – if it is, you will be able to travel through Latvia and charge in Lithuania for free.

IONITY is building two chargers in Estonia. The price is an outrageous 0,79€/kWh but could be life-saving if need be. Alternatively, you can try ZSE Drive which roams on Ionity chargers, with a 24 hours flat rate of 39€/24h. That’s a really interesting option since charging 100kWh during the 24-hour window will bring the price down to a reasonable 0,39€/kWh.

Latvia

CSDD is a national road maintenance authority that also owns chargers. They provide CCS, CHAdeMO and Type 2 AC charging. You can register at e-mobi and download the Android App in order to charge. CSDD charging costs 0,15€/min with e-mobi, and 0,273€/min with PlugSurfing (quite a decent price, however, do remember that you’ll generally charge at the speed of 35-40kW while still being billed by the minute).

I highly recommend getting a RFID token to activate the charger: in the worst case you can get one from PlugSurfing. Charging via the e-mobi app is a lengthy process (especially when combined with a verification procedure with Finnish S-Pankki) and requires a solid internet connection, otherwise you will spend your time watching a progress indicator rotating in the e-mobi app and cursing.

For example, the internet connectivity coverage of the Vitrupe charger (the beach is beautiful, definitely worth a stop) is so weak you have to literally walk towards the main road to actually get a GSM signal. Even if you manage to pay for your charging session, you will need to touch the CCS adapter icon on the charger’s touchscreen in order to actually charge. The display times out quickly (10 seconds or even less), and so you either rush towards the bloody charger, or you need someone else to press the bloody touchscreen. If you don’t, the session will time out, charging won’t start but 80€ will still be blocked on your credit card (even after 4 days 2×80€ hasn’t been unblocked from my account). I spent 30 minutes cursing and swearing like a sailor until I remembered I have a RFID token from PlugSurfing – then the charging was a breeze.

IONITY is building one charger; see above for tips on how to charge.

PlugSurfing also roams with CSDD chargers but it’s more expensive than e-mobi prices, at 0,273€/min. Yet PlugSurfing’s RFID was a lifesaver when the e-mobi app just wouldn’t work with flaky internet connection.

Virta roams CSDD charging stations as well, but the price is even worse than when using PlugSurfing: 0,4€/min.

Lithuania

There are state-owned and State Roads Directorate-operated (LAKD) chargers. According to PlugShare, this reddit thread and my experience they work very well and are free to use. The station is non-networked: you do not need any RFID or any kind of registration, you should be simply able to connect and charge. If the charging doesn’t start automatically, just touch the display, select the CCS connector and start charging.

Alternatively there are paid chargers run by Renerga; the one in Klaipeda I found can be activated using the Virta app for 0,25€/min.

No known roaming with PlugSurfing nor Shell Recharge.

IONITY operates three chargers in Lithuania; see above for tips on how to charge.

Poland

The biggest charging operator in Poland is GreenWay Polska. The prices are a bit expensive (0,49€ per kWh on DC, with an additional time-based penalty when charging more than 45/60 minutes), but there is no other operator. It’s highly recommended to register with GreenWay since it is the most common charging network in Poland and Slovakia by far. There are quite a lot of charging places (even though they only host 1AC+1DC charger, so the reliability rating is “fair”).

PlugSurfing has currently no roaming in Poland.

There are Tesla superchargers in Poland, but they’re not close to the Lithuania borders. The closest one is a two stall in Warsaw, but it’s located in a -5th level in an underground parking garage with tight space behind a boon, so I avoided this one. Luckily there is a new one in Radom; also there are additional superchargers planned in 2020, namely in Ostrow Mazowiecka. The Radom supercharger is a huge lifesaver, and the highway from Augustow to Warsaw to Krakow is brand new; I definitely recommend you to take this route. Avoid the “Warsaw – Czestochowa – Katowice” route – the concrete blocks forming the road are completely destroyed, I was surprised that my wheels did not fell off. Yet, the highway is being upgraded as of 2021 – in 2022+ this route may be viable.

The Orlen Charge is network of CCS, Type 2 and CHAdeMO chargers placed on Orlen gas pumps which comes handy especially in Krakow since there are installed on six pumps. You can use the Orlen Charge Android app, or you can charge via the Orlen Charge web page. The prices are a bit expensive: 0,45€ per kWh on DC, with an additional time-based penalty when charging more than 45 minutes.

Surprisingly Fortum Charge&Drive has a charger in Warsaw and Krakow, you might try those out.

There’s also the GoNet EV CPMS network in Krakow, but the charging app looks weird, and so I would not trust my credit card data to such an app.

So, driving with an electric car around the Baltics is possible, but needed to be planned in advance.

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