By 2035, the European Union will no longer allow sales of new petrol or diesel cars. This is just a little over a decade away, and yet many consumers are still not sold on the idea of owning a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid. This is largely due to electric vehicles’ (EVs’) historic lack of range and an inconsistent charging network.

As with all technology, however, there has been serious improvements in EVs in recent years and we’re not just talking cars – we’re talking nearly any kind of vehicle you can imagine. Even John Deere has committed to offering electric options on their smaller tractors by 2026.


Emer Barry is the programme manager for electric vehicles and demand generation at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). She believes it will soon start to become even easier to purchase BEVs and plug-in hybrids - and it will become more normalised, as well.

“It will be interesting to see how sales of petrol and diesel cars go as we get closer to 2035; there have been a huge number of BEV sales in the past year, and in a few years, there will be more second hand cars available as people buy another new car, so the second hand market will also have a huge role to play.”

Indeed, 2023 saw a 45% increase in BEV sales in Ireland, amounting to 22,789 new vehicles being purchased. By comparison, in 2019 there were just 3,444 BEVs purchased.

“At the moment, there’s over 110,000 EVs on Irish roads and that includes all types of vehicles, including buses and motorbikes,” Emer says. “For some, it’s an economical decision - they’re cheaper to run, even though they are more expensive to purchase than a traditional diesel car. The range has improved, particularly for passenger cars, to 350-400km, depending on the car, which has removed some range anxiety for consumers.”


While the range of EVs has dramatically improved, we are still seeing too few charging points. What’s more, it has been reported that Ireland is the ninth most expensive country in the EU when it comes to charging costs – to fully charge an EV (from a flat battery) can cost up to €20.

“[Originally there were] free charge points for EV drivers, and now people have to pay for their use,” Emer explains. “It is now a commercial enterprise, so when the cost of electricity went up, those prices went up as well. Hopefully, we will see a decrease soon as electricity prices begin to reduce.”

Under the new Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), all charge point operators (CPOs)will have to provide consumers with full information on availability, waiting times and price at different charging stations. This and other elements to the regulation will be in place from 2025.

Emer also points out that there is a new directive intended to improve charging points for EVs throughout Europe. This directive rules that there must be charging points every 60km along any TEN-T core network highway (Europe’s continental highway system). Each charging pool must deliver a minimum of 400kW in charging capacity and this needs to happen by 2026.

In Ireland, the TEN-T network includes the Dublin-Limerick, Dublin-Belfast and Dublin-Cork motorways.

Emer Barry.


While the price of a new EV remains significant, there are associated grants and tax relief - like the Vehicle Road Tax relief for BEVs - available for consumers. Currently, the least expensive EVs are priced at €30,000-€35,000. The SEAI offer a grant of between €2,000 and €3,500, depending on the price of the car (the maximum price to qualify for a grant is €60,000).

“There’s a home charger grant, as well, of €300 if you want to install one in your home,” Emer adds. “The latest figures show 80% of people have private parking where they do most of their charging, and they tend to do it at night, when rates are lower. In the majority of cases, it’s cheaper to charge at night and less pressure on the grid.”


Matthew Sealy is the chair of the Irish Electric Vehicle Association (IEVA). He says the future of EVs in Ireland looks largely the same whether you’re located rurally or living in the city.

“Currently, the recommendation is for a home charge point to be installed and this is more easily done rurally than in a city setting; arguably an advantage,” he says. “With this, the majority of modern EV’s will have a range of 200km or more, and many are 300-400km in reality. On a regional road, the average speeds are naturally slower [which] adds to the advantage of an EV in this environment.

“With the average daily driving distance being less than 15,000km a year per driver, a car of this range would need to be re-charged, on average, twice a week.”

Matthew Sealy is chair of the Irish Electric Vehicle Association.

Pros and cons?

Consumers still have concerns around owning electrics vehicles; particularly in rural or isolated areas. Power outages could affect home charging units during weather events and Irish Country Living understands some rural consumers have given up their electric vehicle as they could not find someone locally to fix it after major issues were identified. Combine this with a global shortage of mined lithium, which is required to make the batteries, and these concerns become understandable.

“From an EU perspective, there is strong investment in battery recycling,” says Matthew, “and 98% of raw materials can be extracted and re-used. Adding to this, by 2027 all batteries over 2kWh that come into Europe will require a ‘battery passport’, which will contain all of the source materials and battery manufacturing information, allowing for a fully traceable system.”

While specialist skills will be needed for EV maintenance, the maintenance itself is far less than that of a standard diesel or petrol vehicle. Matthew explains that the training needed will be more in electrical systems, and this is currently being rolled out in various facilities.

“The motor and drivetrain are much simpler, with fewer moving parts,” he says. “To date, we are seeing that a major EV service requires a brake fluid change, and battery pack coolant change. Minor services are typically no more than a cabin filter. The one ‘increase’ can be seen in tyres, as EV specific tyres wear out faster than a traditional tyre. However, even with this additional cost, the overall servicing and maintenance costs are less.

“Parts will be different, and sometimes costly,” he admits. “The common stories to date come from main dealers and original equipment manufacturers who do not want to open the battery packs up to replace a module that is faulty, instead wanting to replace the full battery pack. There are already specialists in Ireland who do this work, and for a significant cost difference to what is reported.”

Do plug-in hybrids make a difference?

While plug-in hybrids have their place for those who want to have security for longer journeys, they are not part of the solution to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Looking at a small nation like ours with current BEV ranges, we have to ask the question if they are necessary at all. The general advice from the experts is to go full electric, keeping your own travel needs in mind as you may not require as large of a car (or a battery) as those who travel longer distances more frequently.

If you are in a good location for public transport (which is obviously not the reality for many rural dwellers), the most sustainable course of action is to take the train or bus as opposed to individual car journeys.

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She’s electric: ‘I really love my EV – it’s stylish, efficient and a smooth drive’

Suzanne Meade.

Suzanne Meade works in public relations in Co Cork. She has been driving a BEV since 2018 and says, despite a few hiccups here and there, she will always purchase electric vehicles in the future.

“I drive a 2022 Renault Zoe with a range of 350km,” she says. “However, the real-life range varies due to certain factors, such as weather conditions or how fast you drive. As I mostly work from home, an EV really suits my lifestyle. Week to week I don’t drive too much, so I would usually only charge it at home once a week overnight [at a cost of approximately €2.50 per full charge on the night rate].”

Suzanne says that she learned to drive on a BEV, so she has never actually used a petrol or diesel car.

“I really love my EV – it’s stylish, efficient and a smooth drive. However, the only downside is when it comes to long-range travel – it’s just not practical to drive anywhere outside the county. I’ve gotten stuck for a few hours once or twice on a broken charging unit, or just a slow charger when travelling far distances, which is inconvenient. For any long journeys, we use my partner’s car, which is a hybrid.

“I bought my first EV in Northern Ireland for a steal [€6k for a 2016 model], in 2018 when EVs weren’t very popular. There was no VRT on EVs at the time - so it was a no-brainer. I traded this car in in 2022 for a new Zoe and [for financing] started a PCP [personal contract plan] arrangement, which I find great and very affordable. At the end of this three-year arrangement, I have my eye on the new electric Renault Megane, which has a slightly longer range. I’m definitely going to stick with EVs into the future and would recommend anyone who is interested, who doesn’t typically travel far distances, to go for it.”

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