Electric car buyers to get grants of €5,000


MOTORISTS WHO buy electric cars will be given a grant of up to €5,000 for the cost and will be exempted from paying vehicle registration tax (VRT), it has been announced.

The purpose of the subsidy will be to make the first commercially available family electric cars competitive in comparison with their petrol or diesel equivalent.

Prototypes of the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Fluence were on display at the signing of a tripartite agreement between Renault-Nissan, the ESB and the Government yesterday at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin.

The agreement follows from last year’s memorandum of understanding whereby Nissan and Renault agreed to supply electric vehicles to the market in return for the ESB and the Government supplying the charging infrastructure which would make them viable.

The ESB has committed itself to providing 3,500 charging points by the end of next year making Ireland and Portugal the first countries in the world to have blanket coverage.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, said the prototypes showed that motorists would be buying an “absolutely standard vehicle” and it was critical to the success of electric cars that they would be viewed as such by potential buyers.

The €5,000 grant for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) will apply to all cars above €20,000. Cash grants of between €2,000 and €4,500 will be available for BEVs costing under €20,000. The incentives will be available for two years.

A grant of €2,500 will be available for hybrid vehicles with a list price above €18,000.

The Nissan Leaf will be available in early 2011 and will be the world’s first mass-produced electric car for a global market.

It will be followed by the Renault Kangoo Z.E – a light commercial vehicle – and in 2012 by the Renault Fluence Z.E, though 100 pre-production models will be available next year.

The prices of both cars have not been revealed. “It is nine months before launch so we don’t have a price yet, but we know where we want to be,” said Philippe Klein, executive vice-president of planning and control at Renault. He said the goal was to make the Fluence competitively priced.

The petrol and diesel versions currently have a list price of between €20,300 and €23,000.

Nissan International vice-president of product strategy Pierre Loing said that after Government incentives, the price of the Leaf should be comparable with cars in the same range. “Im not saying exactly the same, but comparable. The price should not be an obstacle for customers.”

The vehicle will sell in the United States for $25,000 (€18,000) but that includes a subsidy of $7,500 from the US government.

The issue of the battery has not yet been resolved though it is likely to add between €80 and €100 a month to the cost of an electric vehicle if it is leased separately. However, the cost of electricity will be one-fifth that of petrol or diesel. The electric cars will have a range of up to 160km.