delievers more consumer advice.
In what has so far been a slow year for car sales, electric vehicles (Evs) are noticeably bucking the trend. While overall, sales of new cars declined by more than 10% in the first three months of the year, more electric cars were registered in the first quarter than in the whole of 2018.
Traditionally, electric cars have been seen as the preserve of dedicated environmentalists. But Graham Brennan, EV programme manager with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), said their research shows that saving money is one of the most common motivations for new electric car buyers.
“When we surveyed people who bought EVs, the number one reason they gave us was the fuel cost saving,” Mr Brennan told me. “We were surprised, we thought it would be the environment.
“The other thing is the low maintenance, because they have much fewer components, there is very little to go wrong. There is no gear box, no filters, no spark plug, no engine oil, that is another important thing.”
There are three types of electric cars on the market — hybrid engines, plug-in hybrid and battery electric.
“Battery electric is the one that is going to offer the biggest savings because that runs all the time on electricity and is very energy efficient,” Mr Brennan said.
“It also has no petrol engine so it’s going to be better on maintenance in the long run. You get the full advantages of electric.”
Looking past the headline growth figures, EVs still make up a tiny proportion of overall car sales, 1,437 of the 64,098 registered in the first three months of the year.
With the Government keen to increase that proportion, there is currently a whole range of incentives available to EV purchasers. Fully battery electric vehicles are eligible for the most support.
Mr Brennan and his colleagues in the SEAI manage the electric vehicle grant, which offers up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new electric vehicle or plug-in electric vehicle for private car buyers and €3,800 for commercial.
There is also vehicle registration tax (VRT) available of up to €5,000 for new electric vehicles bought before the end of 2021. The amount you are eligible for will depend on the type of EV you purchase so do investigate this fully before buying.
EV motorists will also benefit from low rates of motor tax. The rate is currently €120 for fully EVs. There are also usually low rates for plug-in hybrid EVs but do check your preferred model before purchasing.
EV drivers also benefit from discounted rates across a number of toll roads. There will be a 50% toll discount for fully electric vehicles and a 25% discount for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Individual (€500 annual cap) and commercial (€1000 annual cap).
The SEAI allow EV drivers to claim up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of an EV home charger unit and this is available for buyers of both new and second-hand EVs.
“You would pay between €800 and €1,300 for an installed home charger, depending on where the fuse box in your home is, and we give €600 towards that,” Mr Brennan said.
If you are a commercial driver, there are additional benefit-in-kind (BIK), accelerated capital allowance (ACA) and grant schemes available.
When assessing different models and what they are likely to cost in running costs, Mr Brennan said the key thing to check is the battery sizes.
They use a thing called kilowatt hours, the same thing used for your home electricity,” he explained. “So what you do is look at your battery.
The big ones that are coming out now, the ones that have up 450km range, they would have 64 kilowatt hour battery. So take 64 and multiply it by the unit cost you pay for electricity and that gives you the cost of driving that many kilometres.
He strongly advises houses to ensure they get the night rate cost when charging as it can be half or less than half of the day rate cost.
Public charging infrastructure is available at no cost but even if that changes and motorists need to top up on the go, Mr Brennan said their overall running costs for the journey will be much less than doing it in a petrol or diesel engine car.
Deal of the week
Bookings opened yesterday for the RIAI Simon Open Door 2019, which will take place this year from Saturday May 11 to Sunday May 19.
The is the 15th year of the partnership between the Simon Community and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).
Anyone can sign up and in return for a €95 donation to the Simon Community, you will receive an hour-long consultation with a certified RIAI architect.
It is a great opportunity to get some advice on a project you may have had in the back of your mind for years, while also helping a worthy cause. Architect Eamon Peregrine, who has participated in the initiative for several years says they can help with a whole range of queries.
“With a small thing, you can usually find a solution or give them advice on the day,” Mr Peregrine said.
But when you are doing a big project, sometimes it is about people understanding the process and what’s involved.
Find out more and book at www.simonopendoor.ie.