All car sales will have to be electric by 2030 to reach climate targets, Oireachtas committee told

Government to launch zero emission vehicles office as it aims for 945,000 EVs on the road by end of decade

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said electric cars currently number 60,000 — or just 2.7 per cent of the total car fleet. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire

Sales of electric vehicles will have to reach 100 per cent of all new car sales before the end of the decade if the Government is to achieve its target of 945,000 electric cars on the roads by 2030, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said electric cars currently number 60,000 — or just 2.7 per cent of the total car fleet.

Overall, the target for electric vehicles — including light and heavy goods vehicles and large public transport vehicles ‑ in the Government’s Climate Action Plan is 945,000 electric vehicles by 2030.

Despite the current relatively low numbers, the authority’s director of business, public sector and transport Declan Meally said the strategy is on target, with sales of electric cars accounting for one in five new car sales, or 21 per cent — up from 13 per cent last year.

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Mr Meally told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport the Government’s interim target is to have 175,000 electric cars on the roads by 2025 with an expected “step change” in the rate of increase after that.

Aoife O’Grady, principal officer of the Climate Delivery Division of the Department of Transport, told the committee international experience had shown that when the take-up of electric vehicles reached 20 per cent, the wider motoring public became convinced of the viability of such vehicles.

She said the Government strategy to increase the uptake of electric vehicles involved two main elements: incentivising the purchase through financial supports and regulation; and the provision of “a high quality, seamless electric vehicle charging infrastructure”. She said it was envisaged that most private car charging would be done by motorists in their own homes, at night so they start each day with a full charge. She said given that many new cars were achieving in excess of 400 kilometres of range, many EV drivers would not even need to use public infrastructure for most journeys.

Ms O’Grady said a key element of the delivery plan is the establishment of an office called Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland (Zevi), which is to be launched next week.

Ms O’Grady said the office will co-ordinate the implementation of the EV infrastructure strategy and the delivery of EV charging infrastructure. The office is to be based in the Department of Transport, and supported and resourced by a number of agencies including SEAI, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the National Transport Authority and ESB Networks.

She said the EV strategy is to be reviewed in 2025, with an updated strategy published for the years 2026-2030.

Senator Jerry Buttimer told the meeting there were a number of difficulties particularly price and availability. He said he had ordered an electric car late last year and it had yet to be delivered.

Ms O’Grady replied that the upfront cost of EVs were “very high” but running costs were less than a petrol or diesel car and “people will actually get their money back within a few years”. There were a number of “headwinds” coming in the future and these included delays in getting EVs due to Covid, a slowdown in Chinese production and the war in Ukraine. She also said the second-hand market in electric vehicles was small, but it was growing.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist