Will the State’s new initiatives make it any easier to buy an electric vehicle?

Q&A: A suite of new grants to make it easier for people to make the switch to electric have been announced

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has announced a suite of grants and initiatives to make it easier for people and businesses to “make the switch” to electric. Here we answer some of the key questions associated with the move.

What is happening with electric vehicles (EVs) at the moment?

The Government has opened a new office called Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland, which will be tasked with spearheading the initiative and is trying to incentivise people to go electric so we can meet our climate targets.

What are the new initiatives?


Well, there are four of them. First, a new apartment charging grant to make it easier for people who live in apartments and multi-unit dwellings to charge an EV.

Second, there is an expansion to the home charger grant which will enable any tenants and homeowners to apply for a grant, whether they own an EV or not. This can also be used for visitor use or at rented accommodation.

Third, there is a new trial to promote and encourage the electrification of the commercial fleet, giving businesses the opportunity to test an EV free of charge for at least three months.

Finally, for sports clubs across the island of Ireland, there will be new funding to install a network of publicly accessible chargers for members and visitors.

What is the Government’s target?

Under the Climate Action Plan 2021, the Government is aiming to have 945,000 electric vehicles in the Irish fleet by 2030.

Just how popular are EVs at the moment?

It is ambitious, but Irish people are increasingly moving to EVs. There has been an increase in the purchase of them so far this year, with 21 per cent of new cars licensed being electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles compared with 14 per cent at this time last year.

How many electric cars are actually in the fleet?

The number is small. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) estimates they currently number 60,000 — or just 2.7 per cent of the total car fleet.

So then how is this target going to be met?

SEAI believes sales of electric vehicles will have to reach 100 per cent of all new car sales before the end of the decade if the target is to be met. So it’s a tall order.

And how easy is it to get an EV?

Anecdotally, they are expensive and can be difficult to obtain. Senator Jerry Buttimer said recently there were a number of difficulties, particularly in terms of price and availability. He said he had ordered an electric car late last year and it had yet to be delivered.

Aoife O’Grady, principal officer of the Climate Delivery Division of the Department of Transport, has said the upfront cost of EVs are “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 are a number of “headwinds” coming in the future and these include 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.

This all seems very ambitious. Are there any other initiatives under way?

Yes. The shared island sports club grant provides funding to install a network of publicly accessible chargers in communities nationwide through local sports clubs subject to certain eligibility criteria.

There is also the draft National EV Strategy underwent public and stakeholder consultation earlier this year. There were over 14,000 responses to the online questionnaire along with detailed written submissions received from both individuals and organisations.

Responses and submissions received as part of the consultation are currently being considered in the development of the final Strategy for publication later this year.

There is also the reopening of the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle grant, which is designed to enable owners of small public service vehicles, such as taxis, hackneys and limousines, to buy electric vehicles. About €15 million was allocated to the scheme for 2022.

Finally, an expansion of the current electric vans grant to include large panel vans will be announced later this year.

How much is all this going to cost us?

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates at least €322 million of exchequer support has been provided from 2010-2021 in EV incentives. Over half of that sum has been paid in VRT relief for hybrid cars.

In future, only fully electric cars will receive State support. The PBO has estimated that State supports work out at an average of €11,300 per vehicle.

The PBO has also raised concerns about the implications for the State coffers, indicating the switch from internal combustion engines to electric engines could cost the exchequer up to 8 per cent of total revenues.

How much do public electric vehicle charging stations cost?

The ESB has introduced pay as you go and membership price plans to use public EV charging stations in 2020. Fees are €4.50 per month and between 23c and 33c kWh depending on the charger you use. GoCharge allows you to charge your car for 30c per kW hr.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

The cost of charging your car at home overnight on Energia’s EV tariff is 6.95c/kWh.

And how many vehicle charging stations are there in Ireland?

Energia estimated earlier this year that the ESB has 1,350 charging stations on the island of Ireland. About 1,000 of these are in the Republic. There are an additional 400 charge points run by private operators.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter