The Irish Times view on electric vehicles: Charging onwards

Uncertainty does the public no favours when it comes to the second biggest purchase most households make after their home

Better battery packs are delivering over 500km on a single charge in some cases. Photograph: iStock

Better battery packs are delivering over 500km on a single charge in some cases. Photograph: iStock

 

The surge towards electric vehicles continues apace. Latest figures for new car sales show they account for 7 per cent of the market this year. There are now over 20,000 fully-electric vehicles on the Irish fleet.

We still have some way to go to reach the Government’s ambitious target of nearly one million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030, but we’re heading in the right direction. The biggest hurdles are well known: range anxiety, price and choice, and charging infrastructure.

Better battery packs are delivering over 500km on a single charge. They are also getting cheaper, with the average cost of these battery packs falling by 67 per cent since 2015. As a result, electric vehicles are gradually becoming more affordable, while most mainstream brands are committed to offering all-electric versions of every model in their ranges. The final hurdle to ownership is charging infrastructure. There are roughly 2,000charging points, some 1,385 of which are offered by the ESB, ranging from ‘slow’ 3.5 kW/h charges to ‘rapid’ 150kW or 350kW chargers.

According to environmental think-tank Transport and Environment, we’re going to need many more. It claims the EU will need 2.9 million public charging points by 2030, and Ireland will need close to 30,000 if the goals of decarbonising the transport system are to be met.

A further 11,000 home chargers have been installed with the support of grants from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), adding to the 2,000 free home chargers the ESB fitted prior to 2018. The SEAI this week started long-awaited consultations on how best to roll out charging points for those living in apartments or other high-density housing. The Government must seriously assess the potential demand on the electricity grid. And it needs to be more transparent on any plans for tax changes.

Uncertainty does the public no favours when it comes to the second biggest purchase most households make after their home. Setting ambitious targets for electric vehicles is pointless unless you put the policies in place to support them.

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