A series of new measures announced by the government to accelerate a mass consumer switch to electric vehicles (EVs) fail to address the fundamental block – affordability.
That’s according to a leading EV expert, who said that while it was welcome to ease conditions for home chargers and provide charging subsidies for flats, the upfront cost of such vehicles would remain the biggest barrier.
At the launch of the new Zero Emissions Office in Ireland, Transport and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan highlighted four new initiatives.
They include an apartment tax subsidy for homes without driveways – such as flats and duplexes – and an extension of the home charging subsidy to people who don’t already own an electric car.
Ryan said he is looking at introducing a number of different subsidies that could spur greater use of electric cars through things like car sharing and wider installation of chargers.
He pointed to already existing subsidies that have helped the taxi industry to switch to electricity.
“There will continue to be really significant support, €80 million this year is not small, but we have to target it, we have to make sure there is a fair transition strategy here.
“And that’s how we’re going to do it, to keep evolving and changing it because this is changing as we speak, the technology, the cars, the vans are starting to change. We’ve got to get the ones that are really transitioning to electric as well,” Mr Ryan said.
He said the cost of eclectic cars will come down as more manufacturers start making them.
“Every single manufacturer is now going electric; they’re better cars. And yes, we expect the price to come down as they start to do more mass production so you get the cost down, but also the fuel cost is a fraction, the maintenance cost is a fraction. So already we are very close to the point where the lifetime cost of an electric vehicle is cheaper than diesel or petrol equivalents. That saves people money. We have to go further.”
The Department for Transport said a new drive to promote the electrification of the commercial fleet would allow businesses to test an electric car for free for at least three months, while sports clubs across the country will receive funding to install a network of publicly available chargers. for members and visitors.
The government has a vision of one million electric cars on the way by 2030, but while there have been rapid sales pickups in the past year, experts say it is not fast enough to reach the ambitious target.
Editor of IrishEVs.com, Tom Spencer, said most people cannot afford to buy an electric car in the first place, especially during a cost of living crisis.
“While the announcement of more grants for charging infrastructure is welcome – particularly for people living in flats – the Government is still failing to address the biggest stumbling block for Irish drivers wanting to switch to pure electric vehicles under a cost-of-living crisis.
“We urgently need funding to reduce the cost of purchase and to reduce the cost of used electric car imports from the UK to develop an affordable used electric car market. We will not meet our emissions targets without this.”
Irish drivers had flocked to Britain in the years before Brexit, importing tens of thousands of used cars annually because of huge savings compared to what they would pay at home. Drivers reported saving up to €10,000 on high-end models such as BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and Audi, even after paying a hefty registration tax (VRT).
However, Brexit put a toll on the market, which has shrunk significantly since the start of the UK-EU bilateral trade deal in January 2021. Since January 2021, there are extra charges to be paid on imports from the UK which would significantly reduce any savings for a would-be Irish motorist.
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