Power confident that electric car sales will rise
Despite the appearance of more and more charge points in car parks around the country, there was a fall off in the sale of electric cars in the month of January. According to figures from the Society of the Motor Industry in Ireland, 104 electric cars were sold in January, down from 168 in the first month of last year.
Economist Jim Power authored the SIMI report. He said there were a number of reasons for the fall off, but he was confident that the trend would reverse. "It's a timing issue. The Nissan Leaf, for example, is one of the market leaders and a new model is being introduced in March. That had an impact. Another manufacturer got a lot of supply last January that it didn't have this year and there's been a year on year decline in that regard."
Mr Power also pointed to the introduction of tax changes in the budget to incentivise the purchase of electric cars and a new grant to encourage taxi and hackney drivers to go electric. "It suggests there will be a lot of demand for electric cars but the supply just isn't there at the moment. I would expect strong growth in the market, particularly over the next five years."
Jim Power said he believed the Government's ambition - for all new cars sold here from 2030 to be zero emission - would be achievable. "It is happening. We've seen a 5% reduction in new diesel car sales. Petrol and hybrid are making up a lot of the loss there. Government incentives will drive the pace of change. 2030 is realistic, but the technology has to change. We need faster charging and longer range batteries," he said.
The economist agreed that the biggest issue facing the new car market at the moment was the weakness in sterling which was making it more attractive for car buyers to import slightly new models from the UK. "Last year, we sold 133,000 cars. We imported just over 93,000 used cars. That's because of sterling weakness. It's simply cheaper and the tax treatment on imported cars is lower.
He also noted that 37% of used imports are three years or younger and they are displacing new cars sales. "That trend continued in January. It is a currency play. If sterling were to strengthen, that market would die off but it looks like it will continue," he concluded.
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