Making Cents: Many benefits as we drive forward with electric cars

Making Cents: Many benefits as we drive forward with electric cars

From Greta Thunberg’s passionate appearance in New York to the news that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that poor air quality in Ireland led to more than 1,100 deaths in 2016 — there are plenty of reasons to consider electric cars.

As the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) points out, an electric car can drive with zero tail-pipe emissions.

But there are also strong financial reasons to consider electric driving, as the SEAI highlights in its new podcast dedicated to looking at what the public can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

Episode one looks at electric cars, which they believe are set to become the new normal for motorists in Ireland.

A recent convert, Martin Daly from Mullingar, is impressed with his experience since buying an electric car in June last year.

“People were saying why did you buy it this year; why don’t you wait for the longer range but I was thinking how long do you wait?” he says. “The car is practical for a family. It is the only way to go. A full charge will get you around 230 kilometres.

“Initially, it was the money saving aspect that attracted me to buying an electric car. I calculated that our fuel bills previously ran to €300 per month. If I heard someone was thinking about buying an electric car, I would say definitely go for it. You have to get on board. Once you get into it, you will never go back.”

But the fuel bill savings are only one aspect to consider, there are several others. SEAI offer substantial grants of up to €5,000 for new electric cars registered in 2019. The VRT relief bumps up the savings to up to another €5,000. That means that those purchasing a new electric car can save up to €10,000.

Electric cars also have the lowest rate of motor tax available at €120 per annum.

Electric car drivers can get a €600 grant from SEAI to install a home charger for new or second-hand electric cars. The car can be charged overnight and if you have a night-saver meter, your costs will be even lower.

According to Graham Brennan, Programme manager with SEAI, the uptake of electric cars looks set to increase dramatically, driven not just by the financial incentives but by the increased range and reliability, as well as other factors such as growing concerns regarding diesel emissions.

“In just the space of a few years there have already been radical transformations in the spec of electric vehicles,” he says. “Ranges of 500-600km will become common for new cars in the next 2-3 years.

“New models will be more integrated with the home with “vehicle to grid” capabilities. This means the car will be able to purchase cheap night rate electricity and supply this during the day. People will begin to install photovoltaic panels in their homes in order to create their own electricity for their car.

“Another area of interest will be light electric vehicles. Manufacturers are already looking to produce small electric vehicles which are designed specifically for big cities. This will help reduce congestion and pollution and provide affordable transport options.”

Another incentive, which will particularly attractive to regular users of tolled roads, is that electric car drivers can also get reduced toll charges. There is a 50% toll discount for fully electric cars and a 25% toll discount for plug-in hybrid cars.

The M50 is 75% off at off-peak hours and the Dublin Port Tunnel also offers significant discounts during off-peak hours. These savings are capped at €500 annually, but that’s still €500 more in your pocket.

If you are considering making the change to electric, you can find all the information you need, including a list of over 200 retailers where you can test-drive an electric car, at www.drivingelectric.ie.

To find out more about the future of electric cars in Ireland tune into SEAI’s new podcast, 180 Degrees. The first episode, Should I buy now or wait to buy an electric car?’ is available on iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts.

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