With the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland remaining quite low, the Government is considering opening up the country’s bus lanes in an attempt to boost sales of the clean transport option.
Despite a number of years spent trying to encourage the uptake of EVs with grants and other incentives, their numbers remain low on Irish roads.
According to statistics released by the Central Statistics Office, just 357 EVs have been sold for private use so far this year.
This is a mere 0.01pc of 36,121, the number of petrol cars sold during the same period, highlighting the challenge the Government is now facing to bridge the divide.
Yet ambitions remain almost impossibly high from organisations like the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, which has called for 20pc of the country’s entire road-faring vehicles (some 50,000) to be EVs by 2020.
While State grants still exist that knock thousands of euro off the cost of an EV, the Government has now confirmed that it is looking into other possible options that might encourage drivers to go green.
Speaking with the Irish Independent, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Government, Denis Naughten, TD has suggested opening up bus lanes to EVs, similar to what has already been rolled out in countries like Norway and Germany.
Long road ahead for EVs
The former of these two countries has become the poster child for green driving, with close to 50,000 EVs on its roads. Although one of the largest EV figures in the world, it still just accounts for 1.5pc of its vehicles.
Some of the other incentives Norwegian EV drivers are offered include free public parking and no fees at tolled roads.
Another model the Government might follow is the UK’s, whereby its government announced it was to spend £40m in eight cities to make them more EV friendly/ This included opening up their bus lanes to EV traffic.
However, Minister Naughten admitted that any plans will likely take some time before implementation, with no funding likely to be announced as part of the Government’s Budget next month.
Speaking frankly about Ireland’s EV uptake, Minister Naughten admitted that there “hasn’t been the uptake we would have liked to have seen”, resulting in a lack of support services.
This slow uptake has also resulted in the Electricity Supply Board announcing it was to continue not charging EV owners at public charging points, despite revealing its controversial payment plans last year.