Electric dreams: EU exports drive €3bn trade surplus in electric cars, but Irish uptake lags
The European Union exported €3bn more electric and hybrid electric cars last year than it bought.
Elon Musk's US-based Tesla has captured the headlines and public imagination when it comes to electric vehicles, but Europe's traditional car makers are holding their ground.
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In 2018 the EU exported €4.7bn worth of electric and hybrid cars (cars that can be driven in combination with a petrol or diesel engine). Imports to the EU were worth €1.6bn.
The main destinations for EU exports of electric and hybrid cars last year were Norway, followed by the US and China. Imports came primarily from South Korea, Japan, and the US.
Germany was the largest EU exporter, accounting for almost two-thirds of the value of exports. Sweden and the UK completed the top three. These three countries were also among the top four member states importing electric and hybrid cars from outside of the EU.
Europe's trade in electric and hybrid cars was dominated by hybrid petrol- engined vehicles - they made up 67pc of the imports and 60pc of exports.
True electric cars accounted for just under one-in-three imports and 39pc of exports.
The use of electric cars is becoming increasingly popular as consumers respond to climate change concerns and as more governments roll out subsidies. Earlier this month, France and Germany agreed to jointly invest in the European production of electric vehicle batteries, taking on the US and China.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the goal was to establish two production plants over the next four years, one in France and one in Germany; each would employ around 1,500 people.
Initially the plants would produce enhanced liquid batteries before moving to solid-state technology by 2025-26.
Meanwhile, the city of Amsterdam said it would ban petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars and motorcycles by 2030, in an effort to clean up the city's air.
The city said it will use subsidies and parking permits to stimulate people to switch to cleaner cars.
In Ireland less than 0.5pc of cars in 2017 were electric or hybrid and uptake is slow, even with Government support for consumers and businesses.
However, almost one in 10 motorists say they plan on ditching petrol or diesel in favour of electric model when they next change car, according to AA Ireland. Dubliners - who have less concerns about batteries running flat due to shorter travel times - are most likely to consider going electric.
The ESB has almost 1,100 charge points for electric cars across the island of Ireland.
(Additional reporting Reuters)