Energizing Latvia: The Growing EV Market and Charging Landscape

December 19, 2022 5 min read

We’re pretty familiar with the electric bus scene in Latvia. But being a curious bunch we wanted to learn more about its exploding market for electric cars. We get it — the market is small when compared to huge vehicle registration numbers in Germany or the UK. But hear us out! The number of electric cars registered in Latvia close to doubled from January 2020 to 2021; then it more than doubled by June of 2022 bringing the number of EVs in Latvia to 2,939. That’s a lot of new EV owners to learn from.

At VOOL we love EV drivers and upgrading their EV charging experience. To do that well, we need to understand their charging habits. Knowing what EV drivers need, want, or hate means we’ll make excellent products to check all the boxes.

Hungry to learn more about our Latvian EV-driving friends, we surveyed some of them about where and how they charge their EVs, what motivates their charging habits, and their driving habits in all those shiny, new, electric cars.

Here’s what we learned.

Confirmed: electric car market in Latvia is growing

We know EVs are driving off of Latvian car dealer lots at a record pace; that was hard to miss in our survey.

Fifty percent have owned their EVs for less than a year and that number pulls into the clear majority when we include drivers who are planning to buy an EV or plug-in hybrid in the next two years.

The most popular brand of EV for our survey participants is Volkswagen, with close to 20% of them cruising around Latvia in a VW. They’re then more likely to spot Tesla, Nissan, and Hyundai EVs, which tie in popularity to take second place in our survey. Renault and Škoda get honourable mentions to round out the brands accounting for close to three-quarters of respondents.

Charging EVs in Latvia

Once Latvians get their EVs and plug-in hybrids home, that’s where they charge them most often. However, over a quarter of survey participants listed paid public chargers as the most common place to charge. And close to 20% choose to charge at work. A savvy group of EV drivers (over 10% of our respondents) hunts down free EV charging opportunities around Latvia.

One thing we noticed is that many EV drivers in Latvia are charging with the charger that comes with their new electric car. And they tend to use the outlets they have at home, thanks to three-phase power availability.

Although a small percentage of respondents have encountered an issue with charging — the common problem of electrical overload at home.

When we asked about adjustments to electrical systems, a quarter of respondents told us that they made some adjustments once they bought an EV. Mostly EV drivers are increasing the amp output to speed up charging. However, one EV owner told us that they installed dedicated metres for their charging setup. EV owners needing to track and pay for electricity usage in places like apartment parking lots or garages is a common problem — not just in Latvia.

EV ownership and new “fill up” routines usually come with a new EV owner habit. Let’s call it electricity price hunting. While owners of fuel-powered cars keep an eye on oil and gas prices, some EV owners take tracking electricity prices to the next level. We’re talking apps, spreadsheets, and regular forum discussions. (Our people!)

EV owners in Latvia didn’t disappoint — the majority of them track electricity prices. Most commonly on the electric company’s website or app. While the vast majority of the respondents have fixed electric contracts, those that have market-rate contracts all track prices — looking for lower rates to charge up their EVs. Cheers for cheaper drives!

EV owner driver habits in Latvia

It makes sense that some Latvian EV owners want to save on their charging costs. But we were curious about just how much driving they’re doing in their electric cars.

The average weekly distance driven by EU drivers (as of 2019) was just over 217 km. Our group of Latvian EV owners is keeping pace — over 40% drive between 200 and 500 kilometres on average weekly. Another 30% drive their EVs even more — averaging over 500 km per week. While 20% of respondents drive between 50 and 200 kilometres every week. That’s a lot of emissions-free drives!

It didn’t come as a surprise that over 60% of Latvian EV drivers live in city outskirts or in a small community close to a city. This group of owners is primarily using their EVs for commuter driving. Meanwhile, close to a quarter of respondents live in city centres. City dwellers usually drive in and around the city — makes sense. Some members of this group were the only ones in the survey to primarily use their EVs for occasional long-distance trips (to escape city life).

We did think it was interesting that the EV owners who live in rural locations or far from any cities generally fit within the average for our group, driving between 200 and 500 kilometres per week. Meanwhile, most 500km+ averages are from EV owners living on the edges of bigger cities. Whatever the distance, we’re happy that all those kilometres are battery-powered.

We loved getting to know the Latvian EV-driving community. Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey — you rock!

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VOOL is the first complete EV charging solution making reliable, smart, and cost-efficient charging available for everyone. Affordable and hassle-free EV charging fastens the energy transition. VOOL means hardware and software made inhouse, flexible charging options for private users and businesses. You can save money with smart charging and earn money opening your chargers to other EV owners.

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EU funding
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 190136402. This publication reflects only the author’s views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.