News Irish News

Thursday 14 December 2017

New breed of EVs can certainly go the distance but sadly they'll drain your pocket

Deirdre Reynolds with the Renault Zoe at the South Lotts Road EV charge point in Dublin.
Photo: Frank McGrath
Deirdre Reynolds with the Renault Zoe at the South Lotts Road EV charge point in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

One motorist was clamped by Dublin City Council while charging their electric vehicle last week.

Test-driving the new Renault Zoe, I was taking no such chances at the South Lotts Road EV charge point. About 2,000 Irish motorists now drive battery-powered cars, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Following reports that petrol and diesel cars could be phased out as early as 2035 here, the debate over free parking and the number of charging stations is sure to rev up a gear.

Back in 2010, I test-drove one of the first Nissan Leaf prototypes in the country for this paper and deemed it "the most electrifying drive of my life".

Eight years on, I'm currently in the market for a new motor and thinking of finally jumping on the green bandwagon for good.

Commuting from Kells to Dublin three days a week for work, I routinely clock up about 500km.

In NEDC lab tests, the lithium-ion battery promises an unprecedented 400km - enough to drive from the capital to west Cork without conking out.

Back in the real world, however, speeding, braking and even the weather are factors that affect the actual power consumption.

When I picked the car up on Tuesday morning, there was 285km on the battery percentage indicator on the dash, for example. By the time I returned home that night, there was 154km left.

No longer just for city slickers, the five-door supermini had no problem keeping up with the gas guzzlers whizzing by at 120kmh on the motorway.

And it wasn't until the battery dropped below 40km the next day that the dreaded 'range anxiety' kicked in.

In theory, the ESB operates 1,200 free charge points throughout the island of Ireland, including 75 fast-charge ones which can boost the battery by 80pc in under 30 minutes.

In practice, one of my local charging stations was out of service, while the other was in use when I went to 'refuel', which ultimately took two hours and 20 minutes but saved €40 at the filling station. It's a pity because drivers here seem ready to make the ultimate switch.

Chugging around in my 14-year-old Nissan Micra, the only stares I typically get from fellow road users are pitying ones. Cruising about town in Signature Nav version of the EV, I was stopping traffic in more ways than one, with one onlooker even pressing his nose to the passenger window while I was still behind the wheel.

Certainly, today's EVs, such as the Hyundai Ioniq and BMW i3, have come a long way since the electric milk floats of the 1960s.

Unfortunately, costing between €23,490 and €29,990, they are a bit beyond my budget, even with the SEAI grant of €5,000. For now, it's back to the petrol pump for me.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News