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Advantages & Disadvantages of Electric Cars in Ireland

Car 4 min read

14 Feb 2022

If you’re considering switching to electric this year, then you’re not the only one. In January 2022, 21% of all new cars sold in Ireland were electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. With rising fuel costs, electric cars will likely become a more permanent fixture in our thought process in future trips to car dealers.

As the most popular choice for car loans, credit unions are very familiar with the decisions facing people seeking to buy a new car, both in terms of finance and practicality. While hybrid is considered by many to be within the electric category, it still uses fuel to power the vehicle. For the purposes of this article we focus primarily on providing information for people intending to make the full switch to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s). These vehicles run exclusively on an electric engine powered by a battery.

With all this in mind, if you’re considering buying an electric car, we've weighed out the advantages and disadvantages of fully electric cars below.

Advantages of Electric Cars

1. Less Running Costs
The best thing about driving a fully electric car is the unshackling of the worries about the increasing petrol and diesel prices. It no longer affects you. Electric cars are batterly powered requiring the power of electricity to charge itself from either a public charging points or a home installed electric charger. The SEAI estimates you can save up to 70% on fuel costs by making the switch.

2. Less Maintenance
With less moving parts, electric vehicles are a lot cheaper to service. They do however, require the experience of mechanics with the necessary experience. This means no more oil changes, no more replacement catalytic converters, no more fuel filters etc. With regenerative braking, even the vehicle's brake pads last longer than a petrol or diesel car.

3. Zero Emissions
If you’re conscious about more than money or savings, driving an electric car helps the environment. This will allow you to rest easy knowing that you’re driving is having no carbon imprint on the environment compared to fossil fuels.

4. Lower Car Tax
Electric cars are on the lowest band of tax in Ireland at €120 per year. This is not likely to change over the coming years with the government’s goal of having over 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and an increasing focus on encouraging the switch over to electric.

5. Longer Battery Life
In the early stages of electric car adoption, most people worried about battery life and having to fork out thousands after a few years. Thanks to advantages in technology, this worry is no longer something that needs to entertaining. Most new electric vehicles offer a battery warranty of up to 8 years (the batteries are likely to last much longer than this).

6. Improved Range
The majority of electric vehicles now offer range in the region of 300kms. This is increasing every day due to manufactures focus on increasing efficiencies. If this is not enough, most electric vehicles offer two battery sizes - a smaller battery and a larger battery which offers much better range. An example of this is the Hyundai Kona Electric which offers two battery sizes - the 39kw offering 305 kw range and the 64kw which offers an exceptional 484km (at an extra cost).

7. Increased Car Supply
Most manufacturers are now in the midst of switching focus to the production of electric cars and offer at least 1 type of electric vehicle. As an example of this, Volkswagen anticipates that 50% of their new car sales will be fully electric by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Peugeot meanwhile have committed to sell only 100% electric vehicles by 2030. This will mean greater choice for consumers as more and more new cars and models come to market.

Disadvantages of Electric Cars

1. Availability of charging stations
While the Irish government has ambitious goals for the adoption of electric vehicles, we're still far behind in terms of public availability of electric charging points. This is especially pronounced in rural areas and counties. This leaves the EV owner with the cost of installing a home charger for greatest convenience.

2. Rising Electricity Costs
While, one of the main benefits of electric cars is offsetting the rising costs of fuel, one cannot ignore that Electricity costs are continually rising too. You can use the ESB’s electric car charger cost calculator to see how much charging your EV will set you back. From this calculator, a 2019 64kw Hyundai Kona would cost up to €20 to charge and complete a range of almost 450kms. Still a good return but maybe not as much as some would have hoped for.

3. High Purchase Price
EV’s are still quiet expensive compared with regular petrol or diesel cars even when the government €5000 grant for new EV’s is included. A new 40kw Nissan Leaf will set you back €28k with a range of 270km. This compares with a new petrol/diesel engine Seat SE coming in at around €20k.

4. Long Charging Times
If you’re lucky to find a fast-charging high voltage public charging point, you could be waiting over an hour for it to charge. Install a low power home charger and you can leave it charge overnight often taking up to 8-9 hours to charge fully. For the impatient among us, all of this compares with the 2 minutes it takes to fill your tank with petrol.

5. Lower Range for Budget Models
With fuel powered vehicles, once you fill up at a fuel station you can drive for a long distance no matter the car you buy without worrying about fuel. Another fuel station usually isn’t too far away. Obviously exceptions exist where one car model might offer more miles per gallon than another. However, with electric vehicles and especially the more budget models, range anxiety still exists. Electric vehicles with smaller batteries i.e 39kw usually only cover +200 kms which for rural drivers would not get you from Donegal to Dublin. It's the equivalent to driving around with half a tank of fuel which may be fine in the city but not for long commutes. Larger battery cars will better range will set you back often €5-10k more.

6. Range decreases in cold weather
Ireland is not renowned for its warm weather. Electric vehicles (depending on models) can lose up to 20% of their range in cold weather especially as the cold weather forces us to use the internal heater. On the plus side, on the 1 or two days a year when the sun is out these batteries can often go beyond their stated range.

If you’re considering buying a new or used electric car and need help with finance, credit unions offer car loans at very attractive rates. You can use our car loan calculator to find how much a credit union car loan would cost you. You can also enquire direct with your nearest credit union which you can find using our credit union locator.