Shock for electric car owners
Under 10pc of promised recharging points now in place
OWNERS of electric cars who expected ESB to deliver 1,500 public charging stations by the end of this year are in for a shock.
The electricity network company has so far installed only 143 charging points at public locations, including just 19 fast-charge stations to 'power up' the vehicles in 25 minutes.
Nissan Ireland blamed slower-than-anticipated sales of the zero-emission vehicles for the delay in rolling out the infrastructure.
Many of the cars cost in the region of €30,000 -- almost three times the price of similar petrol models -- and fewer than 100 cars have been sold here.
The Department of Communications -- which is operating a grant scheme of up to €5,000 to help meet the costs of the electric cars -- aims to have 10pc or more than 200,000 vehicles powered by electricity by 2020.
Uptake has so far been "lower" than expected, with just 46 grants issued since April this year. There has been a dramatic slowdown recently, with just two grants issued since August.
The slow uptake is despite ESB's offer to install charge points in homes free of charge for the first 2,000 customers.
ESB said it was still committed to rolling out 1,500 on-street and 30 fast-charge points.
A spokesman admitted it had revised its original target dates for the public charge points "due to the slower-than-anticipated availability worldwide of charge points from manufacturers".
"Deliveries from some have already been received allowing for a ramp-up of installed charge points by year end," a spokesman said. "We will meet our targets for on-street charging by mid-2012."
There are currently 19 fast-charge points, 124 public charge points and 126 stations built in customers' homes. A further 53 have been installed in workplaces such as Intel, Microsoft and ESB.
ESB estimates that by January there will be 29 fast-charge points in place and more than 300 public charge points.
Dr Brian Motherway, chief operations officer of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), said the charging points were not a key issue as most purchasers would be charging at home or in the workplace.
Car manufacturers estimate the greener vehicles would save drivers about 80pc on the costs of running a diesel or petrol vehicle.
"Sales are slower than we would have liked, but that is predominantly as the infrastructure is slower than it is meant to be," Paul O'Sullivan, marketing director of Nissan Ireland, said. "It is like asking you to buy a petrol or diesel car with no petrol stations."
Around 50 of the Nissan Leaf zero-emission cars have been sold so far this year.
However, Mr O'Sullivan stressed most of the 400 people who it took on test drives last year were eager to see the infrastructure in place first.