Era of the electric vehicle is fast approaching Irish drivers

11 Aug 2011

At a roadshow held by Renault ZE recently, Tom Tyrrell, electric fleet manager at ESB ecars, said the first 2,000 people in Ireland to buy a 100pc electric vehicle will be entitled to a free home charger and that already ESB had installed around 50 of these.

By the end of this year, ESB’s target is to have installed 1,500 public charge points, 2,000 home charge points and 30 fast charge points around Ireland. To be installed on inter-urban routes nationwide, fast chargers will be capable of recharging a battery to 80pc capacity in less than 25 minutes. The home charge points will cost €1,000 per unit.

Anyone buying a full-battery 100pc electric vehicle in Ireland is entitled to a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) grant of up to €5,000.

John Whelan, ESB ecars’ infrastructure planning engineer, says that at the moment the only 100pc electric vehicle brand on sale in Ireland is the Nissan Leaf, and there are 78 of these in the country.

These cars are being manufactured in Japan, so following the earthquake and tsunami disasters, there has been a delay in getting the models to Ireland.

Orders for electric vehicles in Ireland

However, Nissan has recorded hundreds of orders in Ireland to date, according to Whelan. Renault will be starting to roll out its electric vehicle range in mid-November with its small commercial vehicle – the Kangoo ZE – the first to be available to buy for around €16,200 (including the SEAI grant).

The Kangoo Express ZE is basically an electric version of the standard Kangoo Express, which offers a range of 170km and takes six to eight hours to fully charge.

It will be followed by a five-seater family saloon – the Fluence ZE – again an electric version of an existing model.

The other two models are the two-seater, quirky looking Twizy and Renault’s first zero-emission small car, the Zoe Preview, which is due out at the end of 2012 and is about the size of a Clio.

One of the appealing features of Renault’s electric vehicles range is the fact you lease, rather than purchase, the battery.

This means the onus is on Renault to make sure the battery is fully functioning, and if anything goes wrong with it, the battery will be replaced. It also guarantees the battery will be recycled at the end of its life.

Other full-battery models expected to arrive on the Irish market in 2012 include the Peugeot iOn and the Citroen C-Zero range. Various plug-in hybrids, also eligible for the SEAI grant, are also likely to arrive in Ireland by the end of the year.

Survey on e-car purchasing

A survey of 600 car owners over the age of 21 in Ireland has shown that nearly two-thirds answered positively about a future purchase of an electric vehicle.

The main motivations for the 60pc of respondents to reply in this way were to save on fuel and running costs and the desire to purchase a vehicle that is more environmentally friendly.

Renault Ireland carried out the survey, which revealed that the main things putting people off about buying an electric vehicle were connected to the charging infrastructure and range anxiety.

Sandra Rea, Renault ZE project manager, says its range is higher than most customers expect. “We believe the Renault ZE range will be suitable for most daily journeys. Over 70pc of Irish drivers travel less than 60km a day.”

Renault electric vehicles feature a number of tools to manage the range of the vehicle, such as vehicle preconditioning, she continues. This allows the heating and cooling of the vehicle while it is charging.

Photo: Renault’s Kangoo ZE – the small electric commercial vehicle that will be available mid-November 2011