Are we any closer to an electric car revolution? Irish survey finds out

9 May 2018

Image: Scharfsinn/Shutterstock

According to a new survey, Irish drivers are interested in snapping up an electric vehicles, but they’re not exactly rushing to get one now.

Compared with other nations in Europe, Ireland has been quite slow to see a mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), despite having one of the best public charging networks on the continent.

But things are starting to change somewhat, with figures for last year showing that a total of 622 fully electric vehicles were sold, compared with 392 in 2016.

So far this year, more than 700 EVs and plug-in electric hybrid cars have been sold, but this remains a tiny fraction of the more than 26,000 cars sold during the same period.

According to a new survey from iReach, carried out on behalf of Toyota, drivers are interested in making the transition to electric – but not for a long, long time.

While 7pc of respondents said within the next two years, they would be looking to buy a fully electric car, 26pc said that they would buy a self-charging hybrid car. This puts the latter as the second most popular choice for cars, with petrol at 38pc, and diesel coming in third at 25pc.

Infographic of survey

Infographic: Teneo PSG

2033 at the earliest

The results show that, as things stand, people have more of an interest in full EVs (7pc) than plug-in hybrids (4pc), suggesting that we are a long way off from the Government’s aim of having thousands of them on Irish roads by the end of the decade.

Of those interested in EVs, when asked about their longer-term potential to purchase them, only 2pc said they could see themselves buying one in the next three to five years. This was followed by 19pc of respondents saying that they would be interested in buying one in the next six to 10 years, with almost a quarter saying they would in 11 to 15 years.

Rounding these figures up and adding in the 7pc of respondents who are likely to choose a fully electric model within the next 24 months, in theory, it will take until 2033 for 52pc of the current driving population to likely make the switch to electric.

Toyota Ireland CEO Steve Tormey challenged the findings, saying: “I do believe that full-electric mass adoption will come earlier than the survey suggests, given advancements in technology, a more widespread roll-out of charging stations and the fact that we will have younger, more environmentally conscious generations joining the motoring ranks year on year.”

The Government has tried to incentivise the adoption of EVs with new schemes, including offering these car owners half-price tolls on top of the grants already available through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Updated, 2.14pm, 9 May 2018: This article was updated to clarify percentages with regard to the car model people will likely purchase within the next two years.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic