Austria joins up charging points to boost electric car usage


VIENNA, March 20 (Reuters) - Austria is creating a
nationwide network of charging stations for electric cars,
making it easier for drivers to charge up as part of the
country's efforts to promote the vehicles to reduce CO2
    From April, 11 electricity suppliers will combine their
charging stations into one network of 1,300 public points
throughout the Alpine republic, Transport Minister Joerg
Leichtfried said at a news conference on Monday.
    Majority state-owned hydropower producer Verbund <VERB.VI>,
working with Germany'sSiemens <SIEGn.DE>, is the country's
largest provider of charging points, with around 400.
    The move means drivers can sign up with any one of the 11
suppliers and use all the stations within the combined network,
rather than have separate contracts with each company.
    Austria has been supporting the use of electric cars with
various initiatives over the last six years and saw a 130
percent jump in new registrations of electric cars last year,
the biggest increase within the European Union.
    Since the beginning of the month, buyers in Austria can
receive up to 4,000 euros($4,300) in rebates to help offset the
higher price of an electric vehicle. Neighbouring Germany
introduced a comparable premium last year.
    The share of electric cars is three times higher in Austria
than the EU average and four times as high as in Germany.
    As well as investing in electric cars, auto manufacturers
BMW <BMWG.DE>, Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE>, Ford <F.N> and Daimler
<DAIGn.DE> are planning to build about 400 next-generation
charging stations in Europe that can reload an electric car in
minutes instead of hours.
    Transport Minister Leichtfried said Austria's network will
comprise 2,000 stations by the end of the year, rising to 5,000
in 2020, adding the network will be connected with others in
Europe within months.
    The new network will not cover all charging stations
available in Austria but Juergen Halasz, the head of the federal
electromobility association, said he expected others to join in
the future.

($1 = 0.9301 euros)

 (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Victoria Bryan)
 ((; +43 1 53112 255; Reuters


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Referenced Symbols: BMWG , DAIGN , F , SIEGN , VERB

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