Monday 23 September 2019

Electric car sales almost treble but motor industry warns 2030 targets 'impossible'

Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins
Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Eddie Cunningham and Caroline O'Doherty

The Government's plan to have nearly a million electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads by 2030 is "flawed" and "impossible", the motor industry has warned.

The challenge to Government policy was outlined in a letter to ministers, TDs and senators by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

It is part of a campaign to highlight perceived flaws in plans for the transition to electric transport. SIMI said there is no way one million EVs within 10 years is possible.

It cited the sheer physical incapacity of carmakers to supply that many vehicles.

Sales of electric cars almost trebled from January to August compared with the same period last year.

Total numbers are still small compared with overall sales, with just 2,758 electric cars bought as against 48,291 diesel and 42,359 petrol models.

Only 1,009 were bought in the first eight months of last year so an increase of 273pc is significant.

Combined with sales of hybrids, which rose from 6,920 to 10,174, non-carbon emitting or low-carbon cars accounted for around 12.5pc of the new car market.

Based on current trends, 8,000 electric cars may be on Irish roads by the end of the year, but that is still a long way from the Government's Climate Action Plan target of having almost one million electric vehicles - 840,000 of them passenger cars - by 2030.

A ban on the sale of new fossil fuel cars comes into effect from that date and no more NCTs will be issued to diesel and petrol cars from 2045.

But with those regulatory measures still some way off, the current generous grant schemes are considered to be key drivers of electric car sales.

With grants toward purchase cost and VRT rebates, buyers can get up to €10,000 off the price of a new car.

That may be reflected in the relatively small number of used electric cars imported into Ireland for sale and the fall in those imports from 461 to 351 this year to date.

Reduced motor tax, grants for installing home charger points, low charging costs and free charging at public points have also proved powerful incentives to go electric.

Fees for public charge points are imminent, however, and the financial incentives are expected to be curtailed next year as the number of buyers increases and the cost of funding the schemes grows.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe recently said he expected the cost of the VRT rebate this year to be €20m for electric vehicles and €33m for hybrids. Some €27.5m has been allocated to cover grants for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids this year.

Irish Independent

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