New car buyers are still avoiding electric vehicles, while most have been able to make the switch.
That’s the number one reason buyers say they can’t switch to electric, but sales figures tell a different story.
Last year more than half of new car buyers could buy an EV, but only 8 pcs chose.
One Irish independent Analysis of the data shows that just over 60 percent of buyers could afford at least two EV models in the Irish market, while 38 PCs had a budget that would have increased to 10 models.
Around 20 pcs could be chosen from a wide range of more expensive models.
The data challenges the notion that affordability is the main barrier for new buyers switching to electricity.
They raise questions about whether car dealers can do more to promote EVs.
A ‘secret shopper’ exercise by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) shows room for improvement.
More than half (54 percent) of undercover customers rated their seller as knowledgeable about EVs.
He pointed out that 57 percent of salespeople spontaneously mentioned EVs as an option in their answers to questions about buying a new car.
And after declaring interest in buying an EV, 75 percent of salespeople ultimately recommended the EV as the customer’s best option.
But the purchase cost was the main reason the salespeople gave against buying the EV.
SEAI said it was encouraged by findings that were better than anecdotal evidence.
“The key findings show generally good performance and positive results and represent a strong foundation from which to build,” said Tom Halpin, SEAI’s head of communications.
The secret shop exercise comes amid plans by the Department of Transportation to set up an office for low-emission vehicles to support EV use. A report prepared for the department said the way the car reaches dealerships for sale will be “critical in increasing EV penetration”.
“Direct dealer advice at the time of sale is an influencing factor in the customer’s decision-making process,” the report said.
“International research has shown that car dealers were often less willing to sell EVs than ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, with anticipated longer sales times, lack of knowledge or ability to sell, lower profitability for dealerships.” , from servicing due to low after-sales revenue, and the inconvenience of setting up charge points.
“Under the current bonus structure, it seems more attractive for dealers and salespeople to focus on ICE sales.”
After affordability, the most commonly cited barriers to buying an EV are the size and range of the car.
Yet the average household size in Ireland is only 2.75 people and the average number of children per household is 1.4.
The Central Statistics Office, conducting a pre-Covid survey, showed that the main daily car journey for most motorists was just 11 km in Dublin and 16 km in the rest of the country.
Simon Acton, chairperson of the Electric Vehicle Owners Association (EVOA) and dealer for used EVs, said the sentiment about EVs was disappointing.
“There are many more models available now and the running cost is much cheaper than an ICE car, especially now that fuel prices have gone up so much,” he said.
“I’m the first to admit that the public charging infrastructure isn’t what it should be, but maybe 75pc car owners can charge at home, yet we’re not seeing anything like 75pc uptake.
“I understand that dealers are tied into distributors and automakers and most will still be building ICE cars for at least three to five years, so it is not in their best interest financially to pursue EVs.
“But a new ICE bought today will be on the road for 20 years. It’s not sustainable if we’re serious about climate change.”
Figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show that 104,932 new cars were registered in 2021, of which 8,646 were fully electric.
That was more than double the 4,013 EVs sold in 2020, and is expected to rise again this year, but it still falls short of the number needed to meet the government’s Climate Action Plan target of having about one million EVs on the road. It is very little. by 2030.
However, sales figures and an analysis of the 284 car models purchased show that over 63,000 buyers would have spent at least €28,000, which would have gotten them a new EV.
If EVs are bought every year in that ratio, the target of one million in a decade will be within reach.
Even for motorists who must regularly travel long or unpredictable distances, or who need a larger car for family reasons, the proportion of purchasing power is low.
SIMI CEO Brian Cook said its members strongly supported the move to electric vehicles, but practical obstacles remained.
“There is a huge appetite to sell EVs. Dealers have invested heavily in installing charging points in their showrooms, in specialist training for the employees.
“The big issue is supply. Supply is not what it should be. But we will see an increase in EV sales this year. It doubled last year and we may see it double again this year.
“Many people are still blocked by upfront costs, so we need to get more people to look at total cost of ownership over a three to four year period when they take running costs into account.
“Destination charging is another issue.
“You can charge at home and probably get 20 public chargers within a 10 mile trip but travel further and they become rare.”
Sinn Féin Transportation spokesman Darren O’Rourke said the state needs to take a leading role in advancing EVs.
“There needs to be work to achieve the kind of cultural change that is needed,” he said.
“All state cars and public service fleets must be electric.
“It sends a message, but also, that fleets change quickly so you are putting a second-hand EV in the market that reaches a lot more customers than the new car market.
“We also need to see an increase in SUVs as they are driving up fuel consumption and emissions.
“People say they can’t get an EV at the same price as petrol or diesel, but if they are comparing it to an SUV, the question is, do you really need an SUV?”
A new rewards scheme powered by SEAI will recognize dealers who are active on EV sales.
Companies can register for the scheme by the end of this month and a fresh round of shoppers will be conducted as part of the evaluation.
SEAI also has an online cost comparison tool to help potential EV buyers find out how different models stack up against their petrol and diesel counterparts.
Mr Acton of EVOA said it was working with SEAI on proposals for a series of public roadshows to allow people to experience EVs in a non-sales environment.
Other ideas being considered by the department include adding a green license plate to electric vehicles to draw attention to them.,