Cantillon: Greens’ electric car dreams recharged

According to Department of Transport figures there were 1,251 electric vehicles on Irish roads last year

In 2010 Eamon Ryan, then minister for the environment, outlined his vision for Irish motoring. The target for 2012 was to have 6,000 electric passenger vehicles on our roads. That was merely the spark for what was to be a full-on surge. "This target has been set in order to generate the critical mass necessary to assist Ireland in achieving its overall goal of ensuring that 10 per cent of all vehicles (equivalent to 230,000 vehicles) are electric by 2020."

In 2012 138 electric cars were sold. According to the last Department of Transport figures, there were 1,251 electric vehicles on Irish roads in 2015, 1,081 of which were passenger cars. Even adding the 175 electric cars sold so far this year, it doesn’t take a CSO statistician to work out we’re not going to hit the target.

Yet as he returns to the Dáil, Ryan can take some succour from a new initiative by the Irish distributor for Hyundai. Owners of its new Ioniq electric car will avail of special deals with car-sharing scheme GoCar – and rental firm Europcar – when they need to take longer trips.

While the details have yet to be announced, it seems an innovative way to tackle the single major issue that has crippled electric car sales: range anxiety.


Forget the spin: the average full electric car will struggle to get close to 200km of regular driving between charges, unless it’s a high-end Tesla. For longer journeys you could, of course, recharge on the way. Motorists, however, are evidently not wowed by the prospect of sitting around a Midlands car park for an hour waiting for their car to recharge so they can complete their trip. Or, worse yet, stranded on a back road, hoping a kind stranger will run an extension cord from their hall plug.

The new car-sharing co-operation has inherent limitations, of course. GoCar cars are relatively easily accessed in Dublin and to a degree in Cork, but that’s not much use to an Ioniq electric car owner in Longford.

And it doesn’t overcome one other consumer fear: redundancy. What if in five years’ time the tech of the current electric car is considered as arcane as a walkman or VHS recorder?