Why are we so slow at adopt­ing elec­tric cars?

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

We’re usu­ally quick off the mark when it comes to em­brac­ing new trends.

But when it comes to adopt­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cle driv­ing, Ire­land is se­ri­ously lag­ging be­hind the curve.

Al­though sales of EVs rose to 622 in 2017 – up from 392 the pre­vi­ous year – the num­ber rep­re­sents only a frac­tion of to­tal ve­hi­cle sales, a pal­try 0.47 per cent. And in Jan­uary of this year, sales ac­tu­ally fell by al­most 40 per cent, with only a measly 104 sold.

So, why are Ir­ish driv­ers so slow at get­ting with the elec­tric ve­hi­cle pro­gramme? Ac­cord­ing to the Sus­tain­able En­ergy Au­thor­ity of Ire­land (SEAI), it’s down to “many mis­con­cep­tions” about elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

To counter these, the SEAI this week launched a new in­for­ma­tion hub which it hopes will boost sales.

Ir­ish driv­ers’ fears about elec­tric cars are driven by three things: range, charg­ing and cost. Range anx­i­ety is still rife, with driv­ers wor­ry­ing that they wouldn’t be able to travel the length of the coun­try on a sin­gle bat­tery charge. They’re also wor­ried that the avail­abil­ity of charg­ing locations is not keep­ing pace with sales of elec­tric ve­hi­cles. But the big­gest bug­bear is cost. Ir­ish driv­ers reckon it’s just too bloody ex­pen­sive to go elec­tric.

SEAI chief ex­ec­u­tive Jim Gannon says elec­tric cars are “no longer just a pro­gres­sive, en­vi­ron­men­tal fad”.

In fact, he says, go­ing elec­tric will be a smart move, with a num­ber of grants avail­able to mo­torists and busi­nesses and a wider choice of elec­tric ve­hi­cles on the mar­ket at rea­son­able prices. Range anx­i­ety has also been tack­led, with the av­er­age EV ca­pa­ble of go­ing 200km with­out need­ing a recharge.

The SEAI plans to hold a se­ries of road­shows in the com­ing months, where peo­ple can test-drive elec­tric ve­hi­cles, such as the highly touted new Nis­san Leaf (pic­tured), and get in­for­ma­tion on the fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives avail­able, in­clud­ing pur­chase grants, zero per cent ben­e­fit-in-kind and home charger in­stal­la­tion grants.

Soon, driv­ing elec­tric cars will be the “new nor­mal”, says Gannon.

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