Pros & Cons of Electric Cars in Ireland

Published on 16 September 2020

The path to electrification that the automotive sector has undertaken is already unstoppable. Hybrid options are being joined by an increasing number of electric models, an environmentally friendly mobility alternative that will end up taking over the roads in the future. However, in some people, electric cars still arouse suspicions and doubts, so it’s important to clearly understand their benefits and possible disadvantages.

Five good reasons to opt for an electric car:

1. Every kilometre costs less
With an electric car, you won’t suffer each time you have to fill up the tank. Considering the high cost of a litre of petrol or diesel, which is then taxed, charging an electric car battery is much more affordable. According to ESB, travelling 100 kilometres with a medium-power electric motor can cost you just €3.40, while with a diesel engine, you’d have to spend €5.80. 

2. Zero emissions
Electric cars don’t emit any polluting gases, so they help improve air quality in cities, thus becoming an environmentally friendly mobility option. Although they don’t have zero impact, a study carried out by the Universities of Exeter, Nijmegen and Cambridge revealed that the average lifetime emissions of electric cars are up to 70% lower than those of petrol models in countries where a large part of the electricity comes from renewable and/or nuclear sources, and 30% lower when it is produced from fossil fuels.

3. Long battery life
One of the main obstacles when it comes to expanding the use of electric cars has been their low battery capacity, but this problem is being solved. Currently, high-end electric models can travel between 500 and 600 kilometres with a single charge, while a mid-range model can offer about 300 kilometres. Many electric car models incorporate regenerative braking, where kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy that is used to charge the car’s reserves, saving time, energy and money.

4. Fewer expenses
One of the main advantages of electric cars for your wallet is that they involve lower costs than cars with combustion engines. You can save on different fronts. For example, taxes on electric vehicles are lower since they are usually linked to the level of polluting emissions. Electric and plug-in vehicles can also benefit from reduced toll rates, with a maximum limit of €500 of an annual discount for private cars.

5. Savings on maintenance 
The electric car has simpler mechanics than combustion models, so it requires less maintenance. A combustion engine has thousands of parts that move in a synchronised way, requiring constant maintenance and subjecting them to wear and tear. In contrast, the simplicity of the mechanics of electric cars works in their favour: they have fewer elements that are worn down and fewer breakdowns, meaning you don’t have to take them into the mechanic as often. 

The disadvantages of electric cars are fewer and farther between:

1. Insufficient infrastructure
One of the main barriers stopping the advance of the electric car is the lack of charging stations; however, this problem will soon be a thing of the past. In Ireland, there are about 1,000 charging stations spread out across the island. Initially, they were free, but now ESB offers a monthly membership that allows you to save on each charge. There are also mobile charging units for electric vehicles that provide approximately 15% of the battery charge in just 20 minutes, so that you can reach the closest charging station.

2. High purchase price
Although the prices of electric cars have dropped, they are still expensive compared to their petrol or diesel counterparts. As their use spreads and production expands, these costs will decrease. The good news is that you can access a number of grants that can reduce these costs, not only for the purchase of the vehicle, but also for the installation of the charging unit at home.

3. Charging time
Charging times, one of the main concerns of those who are thinking of buying an electric car, have been optimised. With trickle charging, the car battery takes between 5 and 8 hours to fully charge. However, this is a low-power base charge that is often found at home charging stations or shopping centres. With semi-fast charging, this time is shortened, ranging from between 1.5 hours to 3 hours. However, there are also fast-charging stations, such as those found at petrol stations or ESB charging stations, which will allow you to charge up to 80% of the battery in an average of 15 minutes.

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