Getting a million electric cars on the road by 2030 a ‘huge challenge’

Report argues State assistance will be needed to deal with older, more polluting cars

Meeting a Government target to have almost a million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2030 will be “a huge challenge” unless the Government incentivises and supports dealing with the oldest polluting cars, according to a new report.

The study by Arup and economist Jim Power, which was commissioned by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, stated that in order to deal with the older legacy fleet, help will be required for those with the least economic capacity to make the biggest change.

“This requires more investment, not just at the top end of the market, to remain fair and equitable if Ireland is to provide all commuters with viable transport options,” the report said.

Of equal importance, according to the report, is the “urgent need” to create a second-hand electric vehicle fleet. The age profile of the national fleet has led to the continued use of older, more polluting vehicles, with 31.1 per cent (700,429 cars) of vehicles being pre-2011 or older.


Analysis within the report shows that removing all these cars and replacing them with EVs would reduce carbon emissions by 875,000 tonnes, which is the equivalent of planting more than 1.1 billion trees, which would almost cover the entirety of Co Clare.

With the majority of motorists being used-vehicle buyers, there are currently three times as many used vehicles being sold as new vehicles, with an “insignificant second-hand electric vehicle market”. The creation of this secondary market “can only happen via a vibrant overall new car market”.

Supply disruptions

The ambition to sell nearly a million electric vehicles by 2030 is “extremely challenging”, the report said.

“Supply disruptions wrought by Covid-19, Brexit and the global chip supply shortage, combined with potential rare mineral shortages keeping battery prices high, has further delayed the availability of electric vehicles,” it continued.

The report also highlighted that the European Commission aims to have 30 million EVs on the road by 2030 and estimates that three million public chargers will be needed to support them. By the same measure, Ireland would need 100,000 public chargers.

Currently, there are 1,900 chargers installed at 800 sites across the island of Ireland and, with 47,000 EVs on Irish roads currently, the number of charging points “falls far short” of the 4,700 realistically needed to serve these.

“To achieve this investment in public charging infrastructure, a broader approach is required to include policies on charging at home, as well as diversifying the distribution of fast-charge points across the country to ensure charging installations support a complete and robust network across the country,” according to the report.

“There is scope to integrate private market investment into charging infrastructure to speed up the roll-out process and to offset the capital intensity required to build a widespread charger network.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter