Motorists offered €5,000 grant to plug into a new electric car
MOTORISTS who decide to go green will be given a grant of up to €5,000 to help meet the cost of an electric car.
It has also been claimed that drivers who choose to buy a zero-emission vehicle will power their car for 20pc of the cost of a gas-guzzling vehicle and have a free charging point installed in their home.
A range of initiatives aimed at making 10pc of the national fleet electric by 2020 were unveiled by Energy Minister Eamon Ryan, the car-manufacturing Renault-Nissan alliance and the ESB yesterday.
Drivers switching to the greener option will be given grants ranging from €2,000 to €5,000, avoid vehicle registration tax, which can add up to 30pc to the cost of a car and benefit from the scrappage scheme which saves another €1,500.
The ESB will provide 3,500 charge points and 30 fast-charge points around the country by the end of next year, while also promising to install a domestic charger to the first 2,000 motorists who sign up.
A 30-minute fast-charge will provide 80pc of full battery power, while on-street charging points will give a full charge in 90 minutes. Domestic chargers will provide a full charge over eight hours.
Renault-Nissan, which signed a deal with the Government last year to sell their cars on the Irish market ahead of most of the EU, will begin selling three vehicles from next year which will be able to travel up to 160km on a full charge and have a top speed of 150kmh.
The models are the Nissan Leaf hatchback, billed as the world's first affordable, zero-emission car, the Renault Kangoo ZE commercial van, both out next year, and the Renault Fluence ZE, a sedan aimed at families and available in 2012.
The move is part of a Government drive to have at least 2,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of next year and 10pc of the national fleet -- or 230,000 vehicles by 2020.
"The Programme for Government announced our intention to transform the Irish energy and transport sectors," Mr Ryan said. "We have made great strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency and now we begin the electrification of our transport fleet.
"It (the initiative) is making it easier for Irish motorists to do the right thing.
"Cut out the oil, cut out the emissions and actually have one-fifth of the running costs."
ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said Ireland would be one of the first countries in the world to have a nationwide electric charging network.
"This will offer opportunities for enterprise and job creation, as well as the obvious environmental benefits of ultimately having a decarbonised transport fleet," he said.
"We are in this position of getting out there and getting there first. Everybody who buys a car will get the infrastructure in their own home to charge it."
Philippe Klein from Renault said the cars would be affordable to all, and that the vehicles would be comparable with traditional petrol and diesel models.
"Protecting the environment will not be for the privileged few," he said. "Our cars will outperform, others. Safety, comfort and cabin space will be equivalent.
"(Most) motorists travel less than 60km per day. Zero-emission motoring will be practical and affordable." A €2,500 grant is also being offered to people buying hybrid cars.