• Caoilin Rafferty

We asked three electric car owners to share their experiences with us. We wanted to know how easy it was to make the switch and what's it really like for electric car drivers in Ireland.

Paul Martin - Electric car driver since 2016

“My dad said, why are you buying a milk cart…why would I invest in one of them, there is no point”, says Paul Martin, who purchased a second hand electric car in 2016.

Globally, there are strong indications from energy market analysts and car manufacturers that mass market adoption of EVs is likely.

Paul, who is originally from Waterford, lives with his wife Elaine and two children in Dublin. After a lot of discussion about what type of car to buy he was surprised by how many cynical comments he encountered when he decided to buy an electric vehicle.

“There is a perception about second hand electric cars that you are buying something that will never charge but that is just not the case. They are really good value”.

Paul spent a total of €11,000 after trading in his old Peugeot 204. “Our car was old and needed a new timing belt and tyres so we thought about changing the car for a new one but not necessarily an electric car”.

After researching everything on the market and looking at the price of tax, maintenance and running costs, the electric vehicle came out on top for Paul, who says, “we never spoke so much about a car in our lives and we are not car people."

Gillian Gannon - Electric car driver since 2018

According to an SEAI survey completed in 2016, consumers who bought an electric car attributed the fuel cost savings as the number one reason for doing so.

Gillian Gannon from Meath, who lives in Castleknock with her boyfriend Derek, is one of the people who recently decided to buy an electric vehicle.

“We needed to get a new car anyway as we were using a very old banger…we also had a car that we brought home foolishly from Australia… as it turns out the Irish petrol doesn’t seem to work very well in an Australian engine so when I was travelling down to Cork, didn’t the engine just give out altogether”.

While Gillian was attracted to the EV by the enormous savings potential, she also attributes the Leonardo DiCaprio documentary ‘Before the Flood’ as having a massive impact on her boyfriend Derek. Only in recent weeks they traded in their Volkswagen Golf for a second hand EV at the cost of €9000.

“This is very new to us, we are still learning how to be comfortable with the mileage and we are still learning how far we can actually go”.

Driving an electric car is described as a complete lifestyle change. Paul Martin describes charging the car at night is “like asking yourself have I let the cat out”. It becomes a new way doing things.

All drivers refer to the frustration when there is a broken charging point, a queue at the station or simply no chargers around. The biggest disadvantage according to Joe Durkan is that the fast charger infrastructure is not available nationwide. “West of the Shannon there are virtually no fast chargers still”, he argues.

There is also the element of planning for long journeys. “You do watch your mileage a bit more because it is not as easy as going into a garage and filling it up, you still do have to go find a charging station”, says Gillian Gannon.

 

Joe Durkan - Electric car driver since 2017

In 2017 there were at least 972 electric vehicles sold in Ireland. By the end of 2018 this number is expected to double according to the SEAI.

Joe Durkan is originally from Mayo but now lives in Longford and works in Sligo. He traded in his Hyundai IX35 for an Ioniq and says, “Everybody was very interested in it. When my son had his communion I spent the day driving family around for test drives”.

Joe drives a lot as part of his job, averaging 30,000 to 40,000km per year. He bought the car only when he subconsciously felt that the EV cars on the market would suit his needs. “I am pushing the limit in the car I have at the moment to do what I need it to do”.

The longest he has travelled with no charge is Longford to Belmullet. When Joe talks to friends, “the potential savings that are there” are what they are most interested in.

It is thought that by 2025 the capital cost of the EV is likely to be the same as other cars on the market. Although distance per charge is not a major issue for Joe, he is concerned about the car retaining its value. “In three years’ time when I would normally be looking to change a car, the chances are that there will be far better EV’s out there which means the resale value of my car might not be all that good and I may be limited in my options”.

However, most EV drivers agree that the electric car is still the way forward. Paul Martin says that, “For the future of my kid’s environment, it is still the way to go…If I am honest I do sometimes miss driving the manual but I would never go back to a diesel or petrol again”.