Volkswagen says electric cars will make up 20% of Irish new car sales by 2021

EU claims German builders colluded for years to restrict development of clean-emissions technology

Gerrit Heimberg: he says   the current market share for electric cars is  limited by the lack of car choices

Gerrit Heimberg: he says the current market share for electric cars is limited by the lack of car choices


Electric cars will make up over 20 per cent of total new car sales in Ireland by 2021, according to the head of the Volkswagen brand in Ireland.

Sales of fully-electric new cars in the first three months of this year exceeded the total number sold last year. Up to March this year 1,436 new electric cars were registered compared to 1,233 in 2018. Yet despite the rapid increase in sales this year they still only represent 2.3 per cent of the entire new car market.

Gerrit Heimberg, brand director of Volkswagen in Ireland, predicts a tenfold increase in that number within the next two years due to a wider choice of fully electric models, improved infrastructure and better battery range between charges.

He says by the end of next year electric car sales will rise to 7 per cent of the market, before exceeding 20 per cent by the end of 2021. His predictions are based on a total annual new car market in the Republic of 150,000 vehicles.

Currently private buyers of electric cars get €5,000 in vehicle registration tax (VRT) relief and a further €5,000 grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

For commercial buyers the SEAI grant is €3,800 per vehicle. However, for leasing companies, due to EU state aid rules this is limited to a total of €200,000 over a three-year period.

Mr Heimberg says this removes the incentive for leasing companies to promote the sale of electric cars. Company buyers do, however, benefit from a zero per cent rate of benefit-in-kind tax rate along with the VRT relief.

Market share

Mr Heimberg said the current market share for electric cars was also limited by the lack of car choices. Of the 266 different new car models that have recorded sales in the Republic this year, just 13 were fully electric. Of those 13 only eight had sales in double digits. Currently Hyundai is the best-selling brand for electric cars this year, ahead of rival Nissan, whose Leaf model is the best-selling electric car on the market.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said German car-makers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen colluded for years to restrict the development of clean-emissions technology, a finding that could cost the companies billions of euro in fines.

The commission said the collusion occurred from 2006 to 2014 during regular technical meetings, at which the car-makers agreed to limit the development and production of emissions technology for cars sold in Europe.

It follows an investigation that began in September after inspections at the auto-makers’ facilities.