When will Ireland plug into the electric future?
2016 was a bumper year for new car registrations in Ireland, so why were so few of them electric?
While Ireland can boast one of the most comprehensive and integrated EV charging networks in Europe and a number of very attractive government funded incentives it seems that the Irish motor buyer is still in need of more convincing.
According to figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) total new car sales are up 17% (146,175) ahead on the same period last year (124,460), with only 3248 as electric or hybrid models. Diesel models were by far the most popular engine type with a figure of 102,533 so far this year.
Ireland is a small country and it is possible to travel anywhere on the island with only one stop for a top up charge. Compare that to other countries in Europe with a much larger landmass and where people routinely drive much longer distances and Ireland doesn’t fare too well in its EV car per capita ratio. In Norway almost 25% of all new cars sold are electric and the country has outlined plans to ban new cars fuelled by petrol or diesel by 2025. The Netherlands trails only Japan, China and the United States in EV car sales. Ireland hardly registers on the list.
Manufacturers are fully committed to the electric future. Swedish automaker Volvo, has announced that it aims to sell a total of up to one million electrified cars by 2025. The company plans to achieve this aim by offering at least two hybrid versions of every model in its range and releasing its first all-electric car in 2019.
“It is a deliberately ambitious target,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “It is going to be a challenge, but Volvo wants to be at the forefront of this shift to electrification.”
Volvo has reaffirmed its commitment to the electric future by challenging the norms in the high-end SUV sector. The Volvo XC90 is the ultimate high performance luxury SUV, but it is a car with the future in mind. The plug-in petrol hybrid Twin Engine T8 version treads the perfect balance between safety, luxury, space and performance. It is a game-changing example of Swedish design that proves it’s possible to be more conscious of the environment and other road users while having all you need and want in one car.
In this year’s budget Finance Minister Michael Noonan extended the VRT rebate of €5,000 on EVs for another five years. There is also a €5,000 grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) so together there are very attractive incentives for Irish people to go electric.
Electric cars reduce our dependency on carbon fuels and contribute to a cleaner environment, especially in big cities. With urban populations set to increase dramatically in the next few decades, we need to do all we can here.
Four of the world’s capital cities have recently announced that they are to ban diesel cars from their streets. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans last Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025. Campaigners are urging other governments to follow suit.
Could such a move work for the urban centres of Ireland? It could certainly help, but only as part of a wider strategy to make electric more attractive to Irish buyers. Road tax is a consideration for anyone in the car market and currently electric cars sit in the lowest tax bracket at just €120. That does make a difference but the yearly saving is hardly large enough to swing motorists one way or the other.
It is certainly important to ensure that free charging for electric cars remains free and the existing network of charge points, which is one of the best in Europe, needs to be maintained and constantly upgraded. Perhaps other benefits for those willing to make a leap of faith would encourage more to do so. Free parking in the city centre as well as access to bus lanes during peak traffic hours could all combine to make the EV owner really feel like they’re in a club with exclusive member benefits.
If there’s anyone who understands what car represents good value and reliability it’s the city taxi driver. Perhaps by encouraging taxi drivers to go electric would assure people of the long term gains in switch to the EV.
Another plank in this multi-armed strategy would be insurance companies. While at the moment we can’t say that cover for electric cars is any cheaper, in general, the fact they are new vehicles, have smaller engines and are lower mileage, usually adds up to a saving on your premium. If the insurance industry was to consolidate and increase price reductions for EV drivers, then the prospect becomes a lot more attractive.
Volvo’s electrified car pledge forms part of a wide ranging review of Volvo’s strategic sustainability programme announced today that contains several new commitments that place sustainability at the centre of its future business operations.
The new commitment has been christened ‘omtanke’, which is a Swedish word that means ‘consideration’ or ‘caring’.
Among the commitments being made by Volvo Cars are that it will impose climate neutral operations by 2025, have 35 per cent of its leading positions held by women by 2020, move further towards its vision that by 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo and work with international partners to promote sustainability.
To book a test drive in a Volvo click here