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Electric cars 'not yet affordable' for many as Ireland pushes for a million on the road by 2030

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton yesterday described this as “an ambitious” target.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE GOVERNMENT HAS acknowledged that purchasing an electric vehicle is currently “not affordable” for many people as it pushes for one million EVs on the road by 2030. 

During yesterday’s Budget speech, the government announced an extension of the €5,000 relief for electric vehicles to the end of 2023.

In total, €100 million is to be set aside for that scheme as well as others to encourage the provision of charging infrastructure.

  • Read more here on how you can support a major Noteworthy project to find out who is lobbying against the ramp-up in e-cars in Ireland.

The government hopes this will help it achieve its target of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Speaking yesterday Minister of State for Road Transport and Logistics Hildegarde Naughton said this was “an ambitious” target. 

“In relation to EVs and the target of one million EVs by the year 2030, it is an ambitious target. And I think it’s important that we set that, as there’s a message there for industry as well but that is our target,” she said. 

Naughton said there are issues such as range anxiety that need to be addressed, particularly for those in rural areas. Range anxiety refers to motorists being fearful that they will not be able to charge their vehicle before the battery has died.

“We need to recognise the challenges at the moment. There are issues around range anxiety, where the infrastructure isn’t rolled out sufficiently across the country for people to have confidence in purchasing a full EV, particularly for example if you live in rural Ireland,” Naughton said.

It might be different for somebody living in a city who will have access, or their range won’t be as wide or they have access to public transport.

Yesterday’s Budget also announced some minor changes to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) which were aimed at incentivising drivers to switch to electric vehicles.

There are currently 20 VRT bands, introduced last year and based on the vehicle’s level of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Drivers of cleaner cars like electric vehicles and hybrids pay a lower rate of VRT than those who drive less environmentally friendly vehicles.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced a 1% increase for vehicles that fall between bands nine and 12, a 2% increase for bands 13 to 15 and a 4% increase for bands 16 and 20.

There will be no increase in VRT for drivers of cleaner cars in the first nine bands.

Naughton said that these changes and advancing technology may mean that the gap in affordability between fossil fuel and electric vehicles will narrow. 

“Midway through this decade the cost of petrol and diesel cars and electric vehicles will be on a par, so as we go through this decade it will become more of a prospect for many people, because I can appreciate right now it’s not affordable to get a pure EV for some people,” she said. 

Speaking to The Journal, AA Ireland’s Paddy Comyn said the VRT changes announced in the Budget will make fossil fuel vehicles more expensive but won’t make electric vehicles cheaper.

“They’re only going to hit the higher polluting vehicles,” he said.

“For some motorists, moving into an electric vehicle is as yet too far a stretch, and they have no choice but to now pay more to get around, as the public transport network remains imperfect, especially outside of the capital.”

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- With reporting by Ian Curran

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