A focused drive to double the number of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) on Irish roads within 12 months has been launched in Cork City.
Free parking, free charging, free charge points, waived toll charges, zero deposit, and 0% finance offers were announced as part of a package of incentives to encourage people to buy in to the Drive4Zero campaign launched yesterday.
The campaign will see the city taking a national lead in promoting the use of EVs and help it in its bid to be European Green Capital in 2017.
It is being spearheaded by Marine Minister Simon Coveney and being rolled out by a range of partners, including Energy Cork, several car manufacturers, the ESB, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and the SFI Research Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland.
“There are about 450 private electric plug-in cars in Ireland at the moment and that is not a good figure,” said Mr Coveney.
“We’d like to see this project increase that number by at least 50% in Cork alone.
“There have been 142,000 Nissan Leafs sold worldwide. This isn’t a niche market anymore — people needn’t fear the technology.”
Drive4Zero ambassador Donal Óg Cusack who, in his engineering role with pharma giant Johnson & Johnson at the DePuy facility helped install giant wind turbines in Cork Harbour, played a key role in devising the Drive4Zero scheme.
“It is pretty ambitious but it’s the right thing to do for employees, for companies, for Cork City, our county, and our planet,” he said.
The Drive4Zero initiative has reduced the cost of an EV to about €99 per week.
Under the pilot project, Cork City Council will provide 50 free car spaces with charging facilities at its Black Ash park and ride.
Q-Park will provide free parking and charge points to EV drivers in all of its Cork City car parks for the duration of the pilot.
The Fermoy bypass toll providers, Direct Route (Fermoy), has waived toll charges for EVs.
SEAI will provide a €5,000 grant off the purchase price of an EV, with the ESB providing 2,000 free charging points for homes or companies.
Car manufacturers, including Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi Motors, and BMW are providing more than 75 EVs for extended test drives.
Several large employers, including EMC, Apple, and pharma companies in Ringaskiddy, have already signed up. SEAI spokesman Declan Meally said they had funded 50 EVs last year.
“We expect to fund 250 this year, with the figure rising to between 500 and 1,000 next year,” he said.
Sales of EVs are on the increase with 215 new vehicles — private and commercial — registered so far this year, bringing the total figure on Irish roads to 635. They aren’t cheap though — with prices usually ranging from between around €20,000 and €40,000.
Get plugged in
Electric vehicle (EV) owners have called for parking priority at charge points and an improved charge point map.
Resolving these issues will help drive more people towards electric motoring, they said.
Paddy Carroll, a leading member of the Irish EV Owners group, drove his Nissan Leaf from Nenagh to attend the Drive4Zero launch in Cork, and was among several EV owners from all over Ireland who attended the event.
He called on local authorities to enforce a statutory instrument which allows them prioritise the parking bays at charge points for EVs.
“Waterford and Limerick have taken the lead in this approach and have painted the bays in their areas,” he said.
“We hope this campaign will encourage Cork City Council to do the same.”
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