Switch to electric vehicles faces uphill battle, survey of Irish motorists suggests

Findings of Circle K study show gulf between State policy and public confidence

The survey found 56% of motorists felt the charging infrastructure in Ireland to be insufficient. Photograph: iStock

The survey found 56% of motorists felt the charging infrastructure in Ireland to be insufficient. Photograph: iStock


Just half of Irish motorists envisage driving electric vehicles by 2030 despite it being the proposed cut-off point for the sale of fossil fuel engines, new research has found.

The data flags growing concerns that Government green policy needs to be pushed harder to change consumer habits and help drive down carbon dioxide emissions.

It also found that less than a third of people (30 per cent) believed the target of one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 was actually achievable.

The research, conducted among 1,000 respondents on behalf of forecourt retailer Circle K, came just before a Government report outlining its strategy to have 936,000 EVs on Irish roads by the end of the decade, highlighting a gulf between public confidence and State policy.

Worse still in relation to the Government’s record on promoting sustainable transport is that only 17 per cent of respondents feel enough effort is being made to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles. One in three remains unaware that an electric vehicle grant scheme even exists.

Despite its commitment to ban fossil fuel cars and imports from 2030, the plan was conspicuously absent from last year’s Climate Action Bill.

Private cars are responsible for 12 per cent of all European emissions and switching sales entirely to fully electric models is considered crucial in reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century. By 2030, car makers must reduce emissions of new vehicles by 55 per cent, rising to 100 per cent in 2035.

Positive findings

The Circle K research shows some positivity, however, in that two in five motorists would consider switching to an electric vehicle within the next three years. Almost half (43 per cent) said they would be reliant on charging facilities based in garage forecourts.

Trends do appear to be headed in the right direction. Latest figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry showed an ongoing demand surge for all-electric cars, with sales up from 2,954 in the first eight months of last year to 7,057 for the same period this year, accounting for just over 7 per cent of the market.

However, the Circle K survey found 56 per cent of motorists felt the current charging infrastructure in Ireland to be insufficient, the primary reason given by those not yet ready to go electric. Other doubts included the expense of EVs (cited by 37 per cent of motorists); lack of knowledge (16 per cent); and range anxiety (15 per cent).

It also revealed that with more than a quarter of motorists not having access to a dedicated home parking space from which to charge their car, many would be reliant on other options. But while 57 per cent of Dublin residents say they are less than 5km away from a charging station, that falls to 42 per cent in Munster and 36 per cent in Connacht and Ulster.

Commenting on their research, Jonathan Diver, Circle K Ireland’s senior director for fuel, noted they had placed charging points in more than a quarter of its sites in recent years, a strategy it intends to continue.

“We need to transition away from fuel products but ensure we do this in a gradual and appropriate manner,” Mr Diver said. “It is also important to remember that everyone’s journey towards EV usage will be different.”