Switch to electric cars hits speed bump with further decline in sales

Number of newly licensed electric vehicles down almost 10 per cent in the first quarter, CSO figures show

The switch to electric motoring appears to have a hit a speed ramp with the number of newly licensed electric vehicles (EVs) down almost 10 per cent in the first quarter.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show new EV licensed vehicles, a proxy for sales, totalled 6,780 in the first three months of 2024. This was 9.7 per cent down on the 7,513 recorded for the same period last year.

The take-up of EVs has been frustrated by concerns over the fast degradation of batteries and the slow roll-out of charging stations. Both factors contribute to “range anxiety” among drivers.

The move to phase out traditional petrol and diesel engines in favour of EVs is central to the Government’s Climate Action Plan. The plan aims to have almost a million EVs on Irish roads by 2030, comprising 845,000 cars and a further 100,000 vans, trucks and buses.


However, the latest numbers suggest these targets will be hard to achieve.

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The CSO data show that 14 per cent of all new cars licensed in the first quarter were electric compared with 16 per cent in the same period in 2023.

Overall the number of new private cars – of all varieties – licensed rose by 9 per cent to 49,756 in the first quarter of 2024. Some 15,284 of these were petrol cars, compared with 16,292 in the same period in 2023, a decrease of 6 per cent, while new diesel cars licensed increased by 14 per cent in the same period.

The figures also show the number of new licensed petrol and electric hybrid cars increased by 59 per cent from 7,032 to 11,202 in the first three months of 2024.

Skoda with 1,959 vehicles licensed in March was the most popular make of new private car followed by Toyota (1,865), Volkswagen (1,852), Hyundai (1,082) and Kia (987). Together, these five made up just over half (52 per cent) of all new private cars licensed in March, the CSO said.

The most popular brand of new electric cars licensed in March was the Tesla Model Y (234) followed by the Tesla Model 3 (189) and MG4 (106).

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times