The Government’s plans to reduce State grants to motorists buying electric cars will begin from July, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said, in a move that could hit plans to double EV sales this year.
Grants of up to €5,000 are currently available for the purchase of new privately-owned vehicles up to a maximum sale price of €60,000, but the Government decided as part of Budget 2023 to begin reducing the grant from this summer.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr Ryan launched a new national scheme for the rollout of charging points in communities around the country and insisted reducing the grant was still the right choice.
“Yes, because the prices [of EVs] are coming down. Politics is about tough decisions around the allocation of resources. If I had a choice between a grant and putting in a charging system that benefits the whole community, I think we are best switching our supports towards the infrastructure. That is what people really want.”
Mr Ryan said meeting the original target of one million EVs on the road by 2030 was “not the be-all and end-all”.
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He said in Berlin car-sharing “really works, and it is cheaper. It is not all about the number of cars. It is about helping people move around in a way that is timely and saves costs”.
He said there are more than 70,000 EVs on the road at the moment, and while they are expensive, they will soon start to come into the second-hand market.
The €100 million charging strategy contains plans for chargers at 60km intervals along motorways and taxi ranks, tourist sites, hospitals, hotels and sports clubs. There are also plans for charging systems to serve apartment blocks and neighbourhoods.
The strategy states the number of charging points could increase from some 1,700 to between 2,540 and 4,850 within three years.
As a result of the significant numbers of additional charging points being contemplated, it warns that the “widespread use of electric vehicles will place more pressure than ever on Ireland’s electricity network”.
The Government hopes that by 2030 nearly a third of private cars will be EVs. However, there is a long distance to go before this is achieved. A total of 16,162 new EVs were registered last year, up from 8,646 in 2021 and 3,444 in 2019, half of which were bought in Dublin and Cork. In all, there are 73,500 EVs of all types on State roads, including second-hands.
Under the strategy, so-called destination charging would mean stations set up at tourist and leisure locations such as parks, hotels and visitor attractions. Placing this infrastructure at these locations is important for the continued uptake of electric vehicles, the strategy states.
Drivers will as a consequence be encouraged to charge during off-peak hours, with night-time charging costing about half the daytime price.
Another possibility being examined by the Government to ease pressure on the grid is micro-generation, where homes and businesses generate renewable energy for their own consumption.
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The planned rapid expansion of the charging network would mean new on-street charging points introduced for those who cannot charge their vehicles at home, as well as new shared charging areas. This would mean EV owners could rent out the use of their personal home-charging point.
There would also be high-powered points for those making longer journeys, such as between cities or along the national road network. There will also be more publicly accessible heavy-duty vehicle points.
Mr Ryan also unveiled a €15 million scheme to help sports clubs install EV charging points in communities across the island for use when people are dropping their children off or using the facility themselves. He said the scheme will begin in the coming weeks.