Electric Cars – Some Facts and Figures

There are less than 3000 electric vehicles on the road in Ireland . The government target is that electric vehicles will make up 10% of all  vehicles on the road by 2020 – that would mean about 230,000 electric vehicles.  The popularity of Electric cars  does not seem to be growing as much as the government hopes  –  probably because people are concerned about limits on driving distances , initial purchase cost and the regularity (and potential cost) of charging the battery. Here are a few facts and figures that might help people make a decision about buying an electric car.

Grants for Electric Cars

There is currently a grant available of up to €5000 towards the cost of buying an electric car . (For commercial vehicles the maximum grant is €3800.)  The maximum grant of €5000 is payable on approved vehicles priced at €20,000 or more. Smaller grants are payable on lower value vehicles. Vehicles priced lower than €14000 do not qualify for a grant.
Only new vehicles bought from an approved dealer can qualify for the grant. There are about 110 approved dealers and they handle the grant applications and deduct the grant from the price of the car.


Travel Distances : Some models of electric cars can travel up to  200km on a full charge  – but  it would probably be wise not to plan to drive further than about 140km without access to a charging station.  Nissan say that their Leaf fully electric car can travel 100-160km with a fully charged 24 kWh battery and 125-200km with the latest 30 kWh battery.
An example of a round trip of about 140km would be to the ISFC in Dublin City Centre from places such as Kinnegad , Newbridge  Drogheda or Arklow .


Purchase Prices :
Electric cars are assumed to be more expensive to buy than “normal” cars . Compared to conventionally powered cars, the price of a new electric car can be anything from 15% to 50% higher. But with the government grant – the prices can compare quite well.
For example the cheapest Nissan Leaf retails at €26,490 – so when the grant of €5000 is deducted it works out at €21,490. The lithium battery pack is included in the price and it is guaranteed for eight years. S
The cheapest new petrol Ford Focus is around €22,645 – which is more expensive than the Nissan Leaf when the grant is included.


Running Costs:  Nissan Leaf dealers claim that driving 20,000 km in a Nissan Leaf fully electric car will only cost €200 in electricity. They base this on using night rate electricity. But swapping to a night rate tarrif means that you pay more for your daytime electricity usage  and a bigger standing charge . So – if the only night time electricity you are using is the car charger – then you might end up paying a lot more for household usage.

A typical petrol car would use 1400 litres to drive 20000km – and this would cost €1932 over 12 months based on price of €1.38 per litre.

SEAI figures say that an all electric car driven 20,000km would use 3000 kWh of electricty.
If all of this was at daytime  rates  (av 17c / kwh) it would cost €515 in electricity.

If the home had a nightsaver meter and the car was charged on the night rate (av 8.4c / kWh) it would cost €254 in electricity.

So – compared to typical petrol costs – this is a saving of  €1678 per year.
People who drive more than 20,000 km a year will save even more on fuel.

(Electricity charges based on average night rate electricity costs of 8.4 C/Kwh Night and 17 C/Kwh day.  Cheaper prices may be available.)

VRT on Electric cars is Zero

Motor Tax on electric cars is the lowest rate possible which is €120 a year.


Charging stations :  ESB has developed an island of Ireland-wide charging infrastructure of 1,200 public charge points. (about 900 of these are in the Republic). ESB  state that fast charge points are located every 50km on all major inter-urban routes .  Charging is currently FREE – electric car owners have to register and get a card to use the chargers. (Here)  . There were plans to introduce  fees for charging – but these have been put on hold for now.
You can find a map of all the charge points here.


Servicing Costs
A big difference between traditional and electric cars is  that electric cars don’t need nearly as much servicing as their traditional car counterparts.  There is much less moving parts, no oil or filters, the brakes don’t get much use, there’s no clutch and so on. A service for a Nissan Leaf should cost from about €120 – a petrol equivalent could cost from around €199 .


Environment : Fully electric cars are classed as having zero carbon emissions – because there is no carbon from the exhaust. But obviously – the electricity they use will have been  generated from burning gas or coal. A larger proportion of electricity in Ireland is now generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar . About 25% of all electricity used in Ireland in 2015 was from renewable sources. So – electric cars are not really “zero emission” – but they are more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel cars and will become more so as the generation of electricity from renewable sources increases to the government target of 40%. There are some that argue that charging a car at night will use a much bigger proportion of electricity generated by non renewable means  – thus cancelling out a large chunk of any low carbon benefits .