The Irish Times view on the future of electric vehicles: the charge slows - for now

Irish motorists are willing to join the journey to electric, but need reassurances before they abandon the combustion engines entirely

Has the electric car sales surge run out of charge? In a new car market up 18.3 per cent , EV sales are up just 1.4 per cent – a rise largely due to registrations by dealers rather than customers. The EV share of the new car sales market has slipped.

Early EV adopters are already plugged in, but mainstream motorists seem to be getting cold feet. As are some manufacturers: Mercedes-Benz has rolled back on its goal of becoming an electric-only brand by 2030. Other car makers are adjusting their plans. Consumer concerns, meanwhile, centre on three issues: recharging infrastructure, high costs and uncertainty about the tech. On infrastructure, it is up to the Government and energy suppliers to square this circle. Policy is to direct owners to home charging, but rapidly expanding public infrastructure will reassure motorists. Clarity by providers about the costs per charge would also help.

As with infrastructure, so too with incentives. New EV prices in showrooms are slowly coming down but incentives have proved to be key to luring motorists to opt for EVs. If the Government has any hope of hitting its Climate Action Plan target of 845,000 EV passenger cars by 2030, then it needs to consider incentives.

Buyers also need reassurance on tax changes. An Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report this week warned the switch to electric motoring will cost the exchequer at least ¤2.5 billion in lost tax revenue a year by 2030. It’s likely to herald a major changes to the motoring tax regime – and motorists are wondering who will pay.

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With online chatter about battery reliability, talk of hydrogen as an alternative, and better battery technology on the way, some motorists are opting to veer around EVs for now. Many are hedging their bets and opting for hybrids, sales of which are up over 31 per cent this year. You could read the growth in hybrids as an indicator of the public’s confidence in the Government’s strategy. Irish motorists are willing to join the journey to electric, but need reassurances before they abandon the combustion engines entirely.