Faced with increasingly strict limits on environmental pollution, there’s no denying that the future of the car industry is electric. And thanks to innovators such as Tesla, electric vehicles (EVs) are proving a more attractive prospect for commercial use. But are they a good investment for your company right now?
Fewer than 1% of the cars on Ireland’s roads today are electric, in stark contrast to some of our European neighbours. Norway, for example, is leading the way thanks to generous subsidies and incentives. More than 50% of its new car sales last year were electric or hybrid vehicles. While we may be slow on the uptake, things are showing definite signs of improvement. Registrations of new and imported EVs are up by 40% this year compared to the same period last year.
There are many good reasons to consider EVs for your business, but as a relatively new phenomenon on our roads, they represent a leap of faith for many. Those new to the EV market will have plenty of questions. For example, is Ireland a good place to own an electric car? Are there enough public charging points? How much does charging cost? Will the savings on fuel outweigh the initial cost of purchase? What incentives, tax breaks and grants are available? How eco-friendly are EVs, really?
We’ve done some digging around and come up with seven reasons you should consider electric vehicles for your business.
1. Investing in an EV will save you cash
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, investing in an EV will save you money, and quite a significant sum at that. SEAI cites a massive 74% reduction in transport costs when you purchase an EV instead of a comparable new diesel engine car.
Why such a big saving? For starters, the cost of charging your EV battery is significantly lower than the cost of putting diesel or petrol in your tank. And while the purchase price of an EV might appear higher than a diesel car at first glance, availing of a grant can offset much of the cost.
Which brings us to the second reason…
2. You’ll get help to buy your company’s EVs
Grants of up to €3,800 per vehicle are available to companies who want to invest in EVs. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is a reliable source of information on the grants available for private and commercial EVs. If you happen to be in the business of public transport, a €7,000 grant towards the purchase of an electric vehicle for use as a taxi, hackney or limousine might influence your choice.
3. Ireland is a good place to drive an EV
In many ways, Ireland is the ideal location for an EV, as it is relatively small. There are 1,200 charging points on the island of Ireland at the moment, with approximately 900 of these in the Republic. You’ll find them in convenient on-street locations, in car parks, retail and leisure venues, as well as at key transport hubs across the country. Our temperate climate means that less battery power is needed to heat up or cool down the car’s interior. The Irish weather finally comes up trumps!
4. You’ll save on servicing costs
There is no internal combustion engine in an EV. That means no head gasket, no fuel pump and no crankshaft. So no need to service all those moving parts, and no need to tear your hair out on the hard shoulder because your timing belt has snapped. EVs also require considerably less maintenance than a diesel or petrol-powered car - yet another way they can save your business money in the long run.
5. Your EV is kinder to the environment
EVs emit zero tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to improve air quality in our towns and cities. They are also much quieter than petrol or diesel cars, helping to reduce noise pollution.
But are EVs 100% green? Strictly speaking, not always. They may be considered zero-carbon, since no carbon leaves the exhaust, but sometimes the electricity they use comes from fossil fuels such as gas or coal. Even so, they still represent a step in the right direction, generating lower net emissions than traditional combustion engine vehicles.
Norway can legitimately boast that their EVs are almost entirely run on renewables because their electricity is almost 97% hydropower-generated. While we are nowhere near this level, we’re on track to meet 16% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.
EVs are undoubtedly more environmentally friendly than new diesel or petrol cars, and they will get even greener as we generate more of our electricity from renewable sources.
6. You’ll save on taxes
You can claim up to €5,000 tax relief on VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) when buying a new EV for your business. Also, a zero rate of benefit in kind tax applies to commercial EVs. This means if an employee gets an electric company car, they will not be taxed for its private use.
7. It’s the future
Possibly the most compelling argument for buying EVs for your business is that the days of the combustion engine are numbered. The future of the car industry lies with the EV. The Irish Government has said it wants all new cars and vans to be zero-emissions capable by 2030. In any business, it’s always smart to anticipate future trends, and right now the future for commercial vehicles looks electric.