Electric car sales plummet 20% in first five months of 2024

Consumer wariness mounts around EV infrastructure and cuts to grants, CSO reveals

Sales of EVs in Ireland continue to decline, reflecting a lack of confidence in charging infrastructure. Photograph: Getty

Sales of electric cars in the State have fallen by 20 per cent in the first five months of 2024 compared with the same period last year after another decline in the number of battery-driven vehicles sold in May, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has said.

Just 13 per cent of all new cars, some 9,458 vehicles, licensed for the first time in the five months to the end of May were electric compared with 18 per cent in the same period in 2023, amid an ongoing slump in sales.

Industry groups have speculated that inadequate charging infrastructure in parts of the country coupled with the Government’s decision to slash the electric vehicles grant from €5,000 to €3,500 last year are contributing to the drop-off.

At the same time, almost a quarter of new private cars licensed in the first five months of 2024 were diesel compared with 22 per cent in the same period in 2023, the CSO said.


“In the first five months of 2024, 24,009 new cars licensed were petrol compared with 23,944 in the same period in 2023, up less than 1 per cent,” said Damien Lenihan, statistician in the transport section of the CSO. “Comparing the same five-month periods in 2023 and 2024, the number of new diesel cars licensed has risen by 15 per cent.”

Hybrid vehicle sales, meanwhile, appear to be plugging the gap for consumers. Sales of petrol and electric hybrids climbed 49 per cent in the first five months of 2024 compared with the same period last year, the figures show, from 9,864 to 14,712.

Global carmakers are stepping up their investment in hybrid technologies amid a global decline in consumer interest in electric vehicles.

The Financial Times reported last month that “a combination of still high interest rates and concern over inadequate charging infrastructure has chilled buyers’ enthusiasm for fully electric cars, prompting a rebound in sales of hybrid vehicles that most of the industry had long regarded as nothing more than a stopgap.”

Against this backdrop, Toyota said it planned to lift spending on new technologies by more than 40 per cent after hybrid sales drove the group’s profits to a record last year.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times