Electric cars in Ireland – are we there yet?
One owner of an electric car recently wrote to the Irish Times outlining his specific experience with ownership and general daily motoring and the difficulties that electric car drivers are having in this country at the moment.
Mike Gibney from Blackrock explained that he has been driving an electric car for almost a year. He lives in a terraced house with no private driveway which means he has to resort to on-street parking and therefore has no possibility of home charging.
This unfortunate EV driver has to go to the local Dart station for a three-hour charge or to a local hotel for a 30-minute fast charge.The infrastructure is just not ready to accommodate these vehicles for a section of the population. Mike went on to relate:
“Like all e-car owners, I use the excellent Electric Ireland app, which tells me if either of these locations is free. However, on arrival, I would guess that half the time I get to the charge point at the Dart, some other e-car owner has got there before me.
“Queuing for three hours is not on, so I move to the fast charge point and join the queue, which can be several cars with a heavy use by taxis.”
He made a trip to the beautiful Kerry town of Kenmare sealed which sealed his e-car’s fate. The only suitable fast-charge point is in the Topaz (Circle K) garage at Cashel but when he arrived at the service station it was out of order. Mr Gibney then made a phone call to the operator of the fast charger and it was rebooted shortly after that but that wasn't the end of his problems as different electric cars use different fast charge cable and he discovered that at a fast-charge point, only one car at a time can be charged.
“On the return journey, driving in the most economical of three drive modes, I have enough fuel on board to make it to Cashel with a maximum speed of 90 km/h. However, this was during a recent cold spell and quite soon the car became quite uncomfortable since the most economical mode doesn’t allow the heating to be switched on.”
[caption id="attachment_6479" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Topaz Service Station Cashel Co Tipperary[/caption]
Unlike standard cars where excess engine heat can be used for comfortable driving, all heat in an electric car draws on fuel reserves. So, switching to the second most economical mode allowed the car to heat up but that meant that Mike had to say goodbye to a certain amount of fuel. He reached the charger with just 12 km left in fuel capacity. Again he had to wait on a queue, then charge and head home at the 90 km/h limit of economical driving, constantly calculating the distance home with fuel use at different speeds in different drive modes.
When he eventually arrived home there was just 19 km of fuel capacity left so he had to head to the Dart station to the slow-charge facility, again with only one charger in use, while the other charger was blocked by someone parking a non-electric car. With no joy at the Dart station, the EV driver headed off to the local hotel and arrived just ahead of another car so. Unlike the driver of the regular car parked in the charging space, Mike courteously only half charged his battery to facilitate the queue behind him, a full nine hours after leaving Kenmare. The moral of the story is here, that Mike traded in his electric car for a hybrid.
“We simply don’t have the infrastructure at this moment for electric car use, and no national plan that will reassure those who can’t home charge, including the growing number of apartment owners. There is much hype about electric cars but the reality is quite different.”
So in all, the guts of 10 hours to finish a road trip in an electric car from Kenmare to Dublin. Not a great track record for a form of new transport that is supposed to win over the hearts of the motorists of Ireland.
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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