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'Vested interests are out of step and slowing uptake of EVs,' claims Nissan chief

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A senior motor industry figure claims 'vested interests' are undermining Government plans to have nearly a million electric cars (EVs) on the road by 2030.

Nissan Ireland chief executive James McCarthy blamed the "outrageous negativity" partly from within his own industry on the fact that many automakers do not have their 'own house' in order.

"This target is wholly achievable and the Government should not listen to commentators with vested interests who are out of step with the EV revolution and consumer shift towards electric driving," he said.

His broadside, at the launch of the new Juke, is the latest example of struggles within motoring to keep pace with the switch to EVs . There has already been a row between Hyundai and Toyota over the capabilities of hybrid and electric cars.

Mr McCarthy's intervention will create more waves, but he maintains something has to be done - by the Government and carmakers - to hasten the electric era.

There are around 10,000 EVs on our roads out of a total of more than two million vehicles. The Government's Climate Action Plan wants nearly a million EVs within 10 years. Most experts say it can't be done.

Mr McCarthy believes it can and, as well as urging the Government to speed up investment in the charging network, wants zero-rate BIK and EV grants to be retained. He repeated his claim that other manufacturers are using the lack of EV supply to disguise the fact they are not ready for the change.

The Climate Action Plan aims to reduce transport's C02 emissions by five million tonnes by 2030. Central to that is getting 840,000 electric cars and 100,000 electric vans on the road. The "inconvenient truth", Mr McCarthy said, is most manufacturers do not have the electric powertrains to sell to those wishing to switch.

"We should not be surprised that these same manufactures are now saying the Government's target is unattainable and unrealistic. We only have to look to Norway to see what can be achieved when the right infrastructure and supports are put into place," he added.

He described Irish-based criticism as "belly-aching" and the "worst form of protectionism". He also warned that manufacturers are playing into the hands of Chinese automakers who see EVs as a way to get into the EU market.

Approximately 900,000 cars (new and used imports) were registered over the last four years. If they were substituted with EVs, the Government target would look far more feasible, he claimed. "Unfortunately, there has been little or no progress with the (charging) infrastructure since it was first rolled out a decade ago. We cannot wait another year, or 10 years."

A decade or so ago the then government said there would be 220,000 EVs on the road by this year. There are only 10,000. Norway announced similar targets and now has more than 300,000 EVs on the go, he added. He accepted, when questioned by 'Motors', that the Government's partial withdrawal of support for EVs for business has hit hard and could be seen as a sign of specific supports being diluted. But he insisted there are still plenty of incentives, such as accelerated capital allowances and BIK.

Asked where the money will come from to continue current EV subsidies, he said it is likely diesel/petrol cars will face higher taxes. The reality is, he said, it is "going to cost" to transform our means of private transport.

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