You are on page 1of 2

A Need

most attention are those with electric vehicles on them. Car is backed up by new policy initiatives: the Government has
manufacturers are starting to shift towards electric transport in a already introduced an incentive for businesses to buy EVs by
major way and Ireland needs to be the destination of choice for allowing them to write off 100 per cent of their purchase cost
these companies,” he insists. against tax under the Accelerated Capital Allowance Scheme.

for More
In addition, the Government will fund a €1 million project
The Time for Change through Sustainable Energy Ireland to research, develop and
Some will doubtless argue that, given the current economic demonstrate the vehicles nationally. They will also publish a

conditions, building a whole new transport infrastructure is just ‘Buyer’s Guide’ and ‘Cost of Ownership Calculator’ to assist
not feasible. However, Coveney argues that there has never people purchasing EVs, while the establishment of a National
been a better time to make the change. “For me, the time for Task Force will look at infrastructure options for the national
building the really ambitious infrastructure is now when we’re roll-out of EVs.
in recession and when people are out of work because the car The Government has recently signed non-exclusive
industry needs a boost and we need to give people a reason to Memoranda of Understanding with the ESB and Renault-Nissan
buy cars again.” as they aim to meet its target of 230,000 EVs on the road by
Perhaps the most difficult part of implementing the 2020. These Memoranda will guarantee that the first major
changeover to EVs will lie in convincing consumers that they are consignment of EVs will be in Ireland by 2011. The ESB will
The Irish Government has been urged to show more ambition in their plans to getting value for their money. At the moment, the initial cost allow open access to other electricity suppliers and is currently
of EVs tends to be higher than that of traditional vehicle costs, in discussions with 14 different car manufacturers about bringing
introduce Electric Vehicles (EVs) to the masses, writes David Clarke. largely due to the high cost of batteries. This can be solved, says EV fleets to Ireland. It is also exploring the option of introducing
the Joint Committee, by improving the economies of scale for a pilot scheme in one part of the country, where 1,500 charging
WITH CLIMATE CHANGE still one of the greatest tonnes of carbon a year. Electric cars will be the norm in the battery production in Ireland, allowing for the mass production points will be installed in an order to test the infrastructure. The
challenges facing our generation, perhaps now is the developed world at some stage in the future,” he notes. “Do we of batteries. Until this mass production is achieved consumer Joint Committee report insists that this isn’t enough, and points
time for Ireland to really move forward with plans want to let other countries get on with it first so we can copy it purchases of EVs will remain low and significant improvements to more ambitious projects in Denmark and Israel where plans
to introduce battery-powered electric vehicles into or do we want to be the ones creating and shaping in our carbon emissions will not be seen. Despite the high have been drawn up to replace all petrol and diesel powered
our everyday lives. That is the view, at least, of the the technology?” price of batteries, though, the cost of running an EV is still vehicles by 2020. Moreover, effectively confining the essential
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and significantly cheaper than the cost of running a petrol or diesel infrastructure for EVs to one specific area will almost certainly
Energy Security. The committee has argued that the fuelled car. At the moment, the average family will spend €149 guarantee the pilot’s failure, as drivers in the area chosen will
Government’s current plans for electric vehicles in At the moment the average on fuel every month, or €1,788 per year. The cost of running still need to use conventional cars to travel any long distance.
particular are simply not ambitious enough. family will spend €1,788 an EV, on the other hand, will be just €204 on electricity costs,
Currently, Ireland’s per capita emissions of greenhouse gas
are the fifth highest in the world, with the transport sector
on fuel per year. The cost of running representing a saving of €1,595 per annum. It is this, says Simon
Coveney, which makes the switch to EVs inevitable.
Effectively confining the
accounting for 14.4 million tonnes of our emissions. To combat an EV, on the other hand, will be Despite calls for the Government to quicken the essential infrastructure for
this, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources just €204. implementation of EVs in Ireland, there are signs that it too
EVs to one specific area will almost
Eamon Ryan has pledged to make ten per cent of Irish cars recognises the benefits of converting the national transport
electric by 2020 which, based on current numbers, would be fleet to electricity. Minister Eamon Ryan has already stated that certainly guarantee the pilot’s failure,
amount to approximately 230,000 Electric Vehicles (EVs) on our Challenges Ahead he wants Ireland to become a centre for electric vehicles and as drivers in the area chosen will still
roads. However, in its recent report – ‘Drive for Zero: Electric By spearheading the move towards this new technology, not insists that the country is “open for business”. This statement
Vehicles are a Winning Proposition’ – the Joint Committee insists only will Ireland significantly reduce its carbon emissions but, need to use conventional cars to travel
that these targets should be far greater. according to the report, will also herald “the start of an exciting any long distance.
new industry employing tens of thousands of highly skilled
Taking initiative workers”. Indeed, if the Government is serious about persuading
The report argues for a 50 per cent increase on the the public to make the switch from their current vehicles to
Government’s 2020 EV target and goals a long the way. In EVs, then establishing an accessible charging infrastructure
the short-term, it says, Ireland should have 100,000 EVs on for batteries is vital. Simon Coveney admits that this will be
the road by 2016. By 2020, 15 percent of Irish cars should be a challenge, but one that will bring great rewards. “This is a
electric, with no cars powered by fossil fuels being offered for construction project that’s bigger than the M50. You’re talking
sale. Ultimately, this will lead to every private car in the country about putting charging points in every village and town and city
being an EV by 2030. Simon Coveney, the report’s Rapporteur, in Ireland, in every multi-story car park, outside every shopping
is adamant that Ireland can not afford to wait for other countries centre, linking up a charging capacity with every home and every
to start their EV rollouts. business in the country.” The building of this infrastructure,
“Transportation is the big problem area in terms of emissions of course, will have a positive effect, re-introducing many to
in Ireland. Not only does it make up more than 20 per cent of the country’s workforce. “It can employ project managers,
our entire national emissions, it is by far the biggest growth architects, engineers and construction workers. From that point
area,” explains Coveney, who is also Fine Gael’s energy of view it’s a huge physical job,” he says.
spokesman. “The change to Electric Vehicles could potentially But if Ireland is to avail of these opportunities, adds Coveney, Fine Gael It's electric! - McGrath,
be the biggest carbon reduction project that Ireland will ever it is clear that we must act quickly. “If you look at big auto energy spokesman Mitsubishi's Sustainability
embark on. You’re talking about getting rid of eight million shows in France and Germany, the stalls that are attracting the Simon Coveney. new electric car. Manager, ESB.

24 25

BI_Autumn09_1-58.indd 24-25 18/09/2009 12:38:11

However, Senan McGrath, the Sustainabilty Manager at ESB up access to the electricity grid but I don’t see why they should
Networks, is adamant that current Government targets are have a monopoly on the charging infrastructure just because
sensible. “Even getting to a stage where ten per cent of cars are they’re a state owned company. We should be getting value
electric is ambitious,” says McGrath. “Unless the Government for money here. Maybe the ESB will get the tender, but it
were to offer far more incentives then this target is the right should be open. Companies like Better Place should be
one. And let’s not forget that there is no ceiling; we won’t stop allowed to offer solutions.”
when we get to ten per cent. We will do our best to have more
EVs on Irish roads than our current target sets out. But if we had National Project
a higher target, like the 15 per cent that’s been suggested, we If Ireland is committed to reducing its carbon emissions, we
wouldn’t be doing anything differently.” must look in particular at the transport sector where a solution
is on hand in the form of EVs. The current 10 per cent target
Caution to the Wind will only have a modest impact on our greenhouse gas
There is a fear, however, that this cautious attitude will see emissions and, by not fully getting behind the project right
Ireland left behind as other countries embrace the electric car now, Ireland could well be missing out on an excellent
revolution. “The way to do this is not to have a pilot project in opportunity to establish itself as a leader in EV development.
some small area because people will never buy into that. People “This shouldn’t be seen as a fluffy green project. It should
have to really buy into this as a national project and that’s the be seen as a national project that is going to transform the
big difference I have with the Government,” asserts Simon country and the way in which we move around. Electric
Coveney, adding that deals such as that made with Renault- Vehicles are much cheaper, much cleaner and it’s going to
Nissan need to be negotiated with other car manufacturers. be much more intelligent in terms of the technology we use,”
Coveney adds that this will ensure that, once the infrastructure says Coveney, adding that failure to act now will see Ireland
for EVs is built, there is a steady flow of vehicles coming into left behind. “If we continue down the route we’re going,
the country. He has also called for the research into the in five years time we’ll have emitted another 20 or 30
building of infrastructure to be open to the private sector thousand tonnes of carbon footprint into the atmosphere

and not just the ESB. and we’ll be asking how we’re going to upgrade from pilot
“We should be inviting Expressions of Interest to get the projects. The opportunity of being the first mover will have
best solutions. The ESB will be involved as they have to open passed us by.” k


Electric cars exempt from car registration tax. For a B class car the registration tax is around €7,500. VAT (25%)
does not apply to electric cars.

Electric cars are not subject to the annual car tax of €345. EVs do not have to pay road tolls in Oslo. EVs qualify
for free parking which can provide annual savings of around €2,000-€4,000. EVs are permitted to use bus lanes.

Sweden Low or zero carbon emission vehicles get a subsidy of 10,000 SEK (€2,500).

Netherlands Electric cars in the Netherlands are exempted from car registration tax.

Belgium Belgian vehicles which emit less than 105g CO2/km will have a €4,100 reduction in registration tax.

Switzerland Individual cantons provide their own EV incentives.

Germany is currently considering inner circle parking and congestion charge incentives for EVs similar to those
in London.

A French initiative named Eco-pastille, which began on January 1st 2008, sees that people who buy electric cars receive
€5,000 back. Free parking spaces for EVs (equipped with charging apparatus) are also being reviewed.

No road tax or car registration fees for electric cars. Electric cars are also free to drive in Athens when parts of it are
restricted to other vehicles to reduce traffic congestion. There is also free charging on the street of some cities.

Certain cities in Italy have restricted driving within the city to EVs only. Some cities also allow free parking and
charging for EVs.

Spain For an electric car bought in Spain €6,000 or 15 per cent of the price of the vehicle will be returned to the customer.

The Israeli government is providing tax incentives to help Project Better Place achieve its goals. It taxes petrol
cars at 72% while electric cars are only taxed at 10 per cent.

Source: Drive for Zero, Electric Vehicles are a Winning Proposition, April 2009.


BI_Autumn09_1-58.indd 26-27 18/09/2009 12:38:12