Sunday 20 August 2017

Time ministers pulled on green jersey and played for EV Ireland

James McCarthy outlines plans to have 20,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020. But, he says, the government needs to act now

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf
Renault Zoe
Car charging station

Hands up who has heard the term 'pulling on the green jersey'? We all know what it means. It's about everyone pulling together and getting behind an idea for the good of the country.

Like having 230,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on Irish roads. Like reducing carbon emissions. By 2020.

That's where we started with EVs back in 2010 - before successive governments redefined pulling on the green jersey as just a game of target practice.

Within four years, the target of having 230,000 EVs of Irish roads by 2020 was slashed to 50,000 EVs. It is now 20,000 EVs. The reality is that cumulative sales of EVs in Ireland are unlikely to exceed 7,000 by the dawn of the new decade.

And now for the bad news. As Irish taxpayers, we are facing EU fines of up to €6bn for the failure of successive governments to reduce carbon emissions and to hit the moving target that it set for itself.

It is high time ministers stopped talking about being a global leader in EV adoption and took the car out of reverse. We are far from being a global leader when it comes to EV adoption and we remain quite a distance from introducing the policies required to achieve the mantle.

Our performance is even more abysmal when compared with Norway, where incentives to encourage and reward EV drivers have succeeded in attracting 126,000 people to adopt EV driving. With around 2,000 EV drivers in Ireland, it is clear that something more than the financial incentives currently on offer is required.

The population and demographics of Ireland and Norway are quite similar and the same EVs are available in both countries. The difference between Norway's success in changing the dial on EVs and Ireland's stuttering start is our European neighbour's political will to redefine the term pulling on the green jersey.

The looming EU fines to which Ireland is exposed should be incentive enough for our policy-makers to hop aboard a fact-finding flight to Oslo. We don't need, and we don't have, time for any more public consultations. What we need is leadership.

Inertia has been the official policy of successive ministers, and the current incumbent has demonstrated a particular talent for this. The government must get serious, take real action and stop making grand statements of intent.

Nissan is Ireland's biggest seller of EVs; about 85pc of all EVs sold in Ireland to date are Nissans. We have produced a series of policy proposals to ensure that Ireland puts 20,000 EVs onto roads by 2020. Our headquarters in Dublin are a lot closer than Norway and our door remains open to anyone in government who wishes to engage with us.

These policies have been shown to be successful in the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and California. Most of them are cost-neutral when weighed against the price of doing nothing. Here is a summary of proposed initiatives:

• Expeditious delivery of a well-maintained EV charging infrastructure with a sensible tariff structure.

• 20pc of the car fleets purchased by the State, public bodies and local authorities to be EVs. A number of countries made this commitment after signing the Paris Accord on Climate Change in 2016. Ireland did not.

• Local authorities reward EV drivers who adapt their driving habits. Best practice requires provision of a comprehensive charging infrastructure and soft benefits such as free parking, free road tolls and access to bus lanes for EV drivers.

• Introducing benefit-in-kind exemptions for those driving EVs for business.

• Mandating the Dublin taxi fleet to follow London's lead and go EV from 2018 with the support of a scrappage scheme.

• Maintaining the policy of free public charging until the target of 20,000 EVs is achieved.

• Ensuring Dublin City Council adopts a campaign of enforcement to stop non-EV parking in EV charging bays.

It is time for government to think differently about what it means to pull on the green jersey for EVs. We can achieve a target of 20,000 EVs by 2020 and should not be disheartened when Norway achieve theirs of 250,000 EVs by that time.

James McCarthy is CEO of Nissan Ireland

WHAT THEY MEAN: A-Z of (mostly) electric vehicle terms

Renault Zoe


Amp: Short for Ampere - name of physicist who discovered it. Measure of electric current.

AC: Alternating current. Most charging points are AC but all electric motors are DC. Batteries can only accept DC. This means AC supply must be converted by the car's charger to charge the battery. Power grids are run on AC as the charge points are cheaper. They're just accessing existing power. Air conditioning can consume a lot of power. Most new EVs use a heat pump for heating and cooling: more efficient at maintaining temperature.

Battery: Where your electricity is stored. EVs generally use lithium-ion batteries. They provide relatively high energy density and charge quickly.

Cost: To install a new home-charge point costs around €900 (incl VAT) but ESB is doing more than 2,000 for free.

DC: Direct current. Most makers use this for fastest level of charging as it's simplest. See AC above.

EV: Electric vehicle.

BEV: Battery electric vehicle.

Future: EVs will have longer range.

Car charging station

Grid: If you could harness the energy from Ardnacrusha hydrostation, it would charge an EV in seconds.

Home charging: Most conveniently done overnight. ESB provides 1,200 public charging points, all accessed via a single RFID card. Currently free to use. Most charge at 22kW AC.

ICE: Internal combustion engine. When a charging point has been 'ICEd', it's been blocked by an ICE vehicle.

Joule: Standard energy unit.

Kilowatt hour: See 'watt' below.

Lithium ion: Regarded as most efficient batteries.

Motor: EVs have motors, not engines.

Newton metre (Nm): Measure of torque/pulling power.

Optimistic: Government plan for 10pc of new car sales being EVs by 2020.

PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle): Runs primarily on petrol/diesel. Battery provides limited electric-only range.

Quick-charging points: 80 in Ireland, mainly on or near motorways. Can charge some EVs to 80pc in 30 mins.

Range: How far an EV will go on one charge.

Range anxiety: Fear you haven't enough battery left to finish your journey.

Range extender: Some EVs have an ICE engine as a generator to recharge battery. Regenerative braking: When you slow down/brake, the car's system can convert the energy to increase battery range.

SEAI: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Provides grants of up to €5,000 for a BEV, €2,500 for PHEV.

Torque: EVs have total torque (pulling power) available from the start.

Urban: Popular misconception that EVs are only suited to cities. Rural drivers cover longer daily distances often well within EV range.

VRT relief: Up to €5,000 for a BEV, €2,500 for PHEVs, €1,500 for ordinary hybrid.

Watt: Measure of electric power: 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW). A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy required to sustain power consumption of a kilowatt for an hour. On your electricity bill, a kWh is referred to as a unit. If your car has a 41kWh battery, multiply your unit cost by 41 to find how much a full charge will cost you.

X: Model X, Tesla's electric crossover.

You: Would an EV work for you? Ask a salesperson.

Z: Just happens to be an EV called ZOE from Renault.

Most of this list was compiled by Jeremy Warnock, Product Manager, Renault Ireland. Our thanks.

Indo Motoring

Also in Life