Thursday 25 April 2019

State drives to put 250,000 electric cars on road by 2020

Paul Melia

THE Government wants 10pc of vehicles on Irish roads to be powered by electricity within 12 years -- but doesn't yet know how the scheme will work.

A national taskforce is to decide how electric cars will be fuelled, but the details of how people who make the switch can run their cars has yet to be worked out.

The public transport fleet will be targeted to lead the drive towards cutting down on fossil fuel bills -- with ministerial cars also likely to make the switch.

The Government wants 250,000 cars to be powered by renewable energy by 2020 and yesterday unveiled a package of incentives to encourage motorists to make the switch.

Under the scheme, aimed at cutting the State's €6bn annual bill for imported fossil fuels, businesses that purchase electric vehicles will be able to write off 100pc of the cost against their tax bill.

A national task force has been set up to see how charging points and infrastructure can be rolled out, while Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) has been awarded €1m to lead research into new electric vehicles.

While electric car owners must charge their cars at home or at work, the Government wants a network of filling stations built where drivers can plug their cars into the electricity grid and recharge, or swap their batteries for a pre-charged one.

SEI earlier this year said that electric cars do cost the consumer more, but Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said costs would fall as they became more popular.

"It's absolutely achievable, it's a radical shift," he said. "When you mass produce electric vehicles you'll see the cost dropping. When you provide the infrastructure to make it viable, that'll bring the cost down. We want to see tens of thousands of vehicles being sold, not a couple of hundred. In those circumstances they will be cheaper.

Status

"I don't think all electric cars are going to be little, they're going to move to the large standard family car. The way this will work is when there's status attached to it. A lot of what we do with cars is based on status -- does it look good, does it make you feel good?"

Officials have travelled to Israel and Denmark to see best practice, and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey expects further incentives to be provided to help meet the target.

"The basis is the private sector will fund quite an amount of the research," he said.

The Government said that Ireland's size suits electric vehicles, and the country could become an effective test centre for the world's car manufacturers.

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