Ireland ‘middling’ in electric vehicle readiness

Ireland once regarded as perfect test case for EV transition, thanks to the country’s size, climate, terrain and government utility ownership

Human behaviour will be as important as hard cash and poured concrete as Ireland prepares itself for a future of electric driving. Right now, we’re at a crucial transition point as sales of electric cars gather massive momentum, but the charging network is struggling to keep pace with demand.

EY, the consulting company that used to be called Ernst & Young, has issued a new study of global readiness for the switch to electric motoring. There are unsurprising entries at the top of that list: China, Norway, Sweden and Germany to name a few. Ireland was once named as a perfect test case for the electric car transition, thanks to our small geographical size, temperate climate, lack of big mountains, and government ownership of utilities. Have we managed to turn that into EV success, and are we actually prepared for the post-2030 reality?

“We’re middling” Stephen Prendiville, head of sustainability at EY, Ireland told The Irish Times. “We could certainly be further along, coming out of Covid, and there are some things we could have instigated earlier. That said, middling also means we’re not too bad. I would not say that we’re in poor shape.”

Prendiville makes the point that Ireland scores pretty well from a customer sentiment point of view, in that people are open to buying EVs, and even keen on doing so but that we’re still too reliant on those same people owning their own home, with a driveway, and installing a home charging point.


“We haven’t done enough on the public charging network from a residential scale perspective. We haven’t done enough on chargers for apartment blocks and that kind of thing, and we could have done. Not doing it means that other countries are ahead of us, and it knocks us down on that degree of readiness as we approach the explosion in EV sales.”

One of the critical things we can do, and must do, as electric car numbers swell and the public charging network struggles to keep pace, is to educate and change the behaviour of drivers when it comes to charging. “The network is already coming under pressure because more and more of us are using it. You’ve got a lot of people sitting on destination chargers because they don’t have home chargers, and you’ve got a lot of people that are in EVs that are suffering really significant range anxiety. So the idea of just charging to 80 per cent and then leaving the show is something that they’re not capable of doing. Yet. We’re going to start experiencing a lot of what we’re calling in more mature markets, queueing anxiety, and we’re going to find that the rules … have to get a lot more clear.”

Prendiville advocates proper rules and regulations being introduced around the use of public rapid chargers, preferably monitored and enforced by on-site staff. Beyond that, he also thinks that people will get wise to the idea of renting out their home chargers, especially as solar panel installations take off. “People Airbnb their houses, so what’s the difference? Solar plays into it as well — the business case for solar on your home falls over because no one’s at home to take advantage of the sunshine during the day. You can turn that around by renting out your home charger when you’re out at work, and actually turn it into a way of earning money for yourself.”

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring