• Shane Prendergast
  • 5 min read

In the first quarter of 2023, EV sales surpassed petrol/diesel car sales in Ireland for the first time ever. Shane Prendergast, Programme Manager for EVs, breaks down what that means and what can be done to achieve greater mass uptake of EVs.

Are we approaching the tipping point for EV adoption in Ireland? For the first time ever, the sale of EVs in the first quarter of 2023 surpassed the sale of petrol/diesel cars in Ireland. EVs can no longer be considered the odd fish in the ocean. EVs are now no different to a petrol or diesel car and are becoming a significant and critical part of the motor industry and car sales. Next time you are out and about see if you can pick out the EVs from all the motor traffic that you pass! 

Electric vehicles play a significant and critical role in the journey to reducing emissions in the transport sector. Crucially, EVs need to be seen as part of the solution but not the only solution. Through a combination of electrification of transport, reduced private car usage (single occupancy in particular), increasing active and multi-modal travel and increasing public transport, significant steps (pardon the pun) can be taken towards reducing emissions. The ‘Avoid, Shift, Improve’ mantra to transport covers this combination impeccably and is articulated very well through the current Climate Action Plan, with EVs resting in the 'Improve' section of the plan. 

In 2022, one in five new passenger vehicles sold was electric (fully electric and plug-in hybrid) with over 70,000 EVs on Irish roads. In Q1 2023, this is approaching one in four new passenger cars. 

Let that sink in for a moment. 

Arguably we are now beyond the tipping point for EV adoption. 

Are Electric Vehicles affordable?

Regularly argued in the EV landscape and wider public discourse is the line “EVs are only for the rich”.   

While there is some validity to this point, measures have been put in place to ensure government support is aligned and provided to the availability of more affordable EVs on the market. Grants are only available for new electric vehicles that are priced at 60k or less.  

But most people will never buy a new car, EV or otherwise. And with the vast majority of support aimed, to date, at the new car market, the momentum in the EV market is coming from those who can afford new EVs.

Total Cost of Ownership

It is important not to completely forget the total cost of ownership debate when it comes to EVs. Over the life time of the average car, EVs are cheaper than combustion engine-based cars. For example:

Annual Energy Costs (€)

Volkswagen Golf16040
Volkswagen ID.30640
MG MG40668
FIAT 5000591

10 year total cost of ownership (€)

 Total cost of ownership
Volkswagen Golf57455
Volkswagen ID.358202
MG MG447875
FIAT 50043905

How can we achieve mass uptake of EVs?

The answer is through the used car market.  

In partnership with Done Deal, a recent survey indicated 70% of respondents would consider an EV as their next car, highlighting the change in attitude amongst Irish people to EVs. The survey highlighted that whether or not you are in the market for a new or used EV, price, running cost, range and reliability were the biggest concerns. With such a willingness to consider an electric car as the next purchase, nurturing the emerging Used EV market is possibly the most critical juncture to achieving mass adoption. 

While the increase in EV adoption has received a fair bit of coverage, the increased availability of used EVs has barely even made it into the footnotes of the news headlines. The well documented growth in new EV sales is trickling down into the used market and around 1,500 battery electric vehicles are available on Done Deal alone, from as little as €2,200. That’s right, read that again - you can buy an EV for €2,200. First generation EV drivers are switching to newer models and the commercial or company cars that are electric are arriving into the used market as they get turned around every 3-4 years.  

As a rule of thumb, you can take it that the more you spend, the more range you get. There is an EV to fit your budget and hopefully your needs. From Done Deal, you can get roughly the following range for the budget: 

  • Up to €10,000 will get you 150km + 
  • €10-€20k will get you 250km+ 
  • €20-€30k will get you 300km+ 
  • €30k-440k will get you 400km+ 

If you’re considering going electric, have a think about what you actually drive on a day-to-day basis, distance- wise. You may be surprised when you actually get into it how little the distance is compared to what you think you cover. In fact, you might realise a smaller range EV will cover your normal needs. For the longer trips don’t be afraid to consider car-sharing, car clubs, car rental or public transport. 

If you are thinking about changing your car this year, why not think of an EV. The used EV market is growing rapidly and will continue to expand to cater for most needs. 

SEAI offers guidance for anyone and everyone considering used EVs to ensure that any buyer can consider all the important factors and are well informed when contemplating opting for a Used EV. 


For more information on electric vehicles, visit www.drivingelectric.ie 

Shane Prendergast | Programme Manager - EV Grants

Shane Prendergast is a Programme Manager working in EV Charging Infrastructure & Policy, Mobility and Smart Networks in SEAI with a primary focus on decarbonising the transport sector through electrification, modal and behaviour shift and educating and empowering citizens, communities and businesses to take control of their energy and electricity use and become smart and flexible energy users.