A car-sharing scheme modelled on Dublin Bikes is to be rolled out by the Government before the end of the year to increase uptake of electric vehicles (EVs).
More than 100 EVs will be available for hire in Dublin and Cork as part of an initiative to increase uptake and address fears of range anxiety [where motorists fear the car will run out of power before reaching their destination].
Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said the move formed part of a three-strand approach to increase the number of low-emission cars on the road.
There are currently just 1,825 EVs licensed, comprising less than 0.1pc of the national fleet. Just 411 were licensed last year. The Government wants to ramp up numbers to reduce transport emissions to tackle climate change and improve air quality.
Other measures include a roadshow for EVs visiting towns and shows including the National Ploughing Championships, where members of the public could test-drive vehicles.
The State will also launch a scheme for business and the public sector to help finance the cost of converting some of their fleets to electric.
"We're trying to look at innovative ways to drive change," Mr Naughten said in an interview with the Irish Independent. "The uptake in relation to EVs has not been the extent we wanted to see.
"It's disappointing, but it is where it is. We're looking at a similar system to Dublin Bikes in relation to EVs. We're looking at a rental scheme. There'd be a membership, then pay as you go. It gives the opportunity for people to use these vehicles and test drive them.
"We've a good bit of work done, and will expect to have full details in the coming months. We'd hope to see these vehicles on the road this year."
He said while the price of EVs was coming down, addressing the "pricing challenge" wasn't enough to convince motorists to shift.
"There is also range anxiety, even though it affects a relatively small amount of people. The amount of people doing large distance driving on a daily basis is very little."
The second strand involves creation of a roadshow to bring EVs around the country to shows where people would get the opportunity to drive them.
"Most happen at the weekends, and the roadshow would also go to particular towns. It could be in Longford for three or four days, where people would have the opportunity to test drive these vehicles, and then go to the Tullamore Show at the weekend," he said.
"We're also looking at businesses and the public sector to see if we could support them with an incentive to convert their fleet or part of to EV.
"Not just cars, but light goods vehicles also. It's to get people accustomed to using EVs to drive the change."