As fossil fuels fade, electricity looks to be the way ahead for the motoring industry, writes Martin Brennan
Judging by the EVs, hybrids and futuristic concept models at the Geneva Motor Show last week, fossil-fuel motoring is on the way out.
The trend towards electric power is gathering pace, even if VW bosses see a future for cleaner diesel technology, while still planning to set aside €84bn for electric and futuristic means of propulsion. Toyota, the long-time believer in hybrid technology, has decided there will be no sale of new diesel passenger cars from next year.
Ireland has a target to end the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030: diesel and petrol-only cars will be off the shopping list, with hybrid technology likely to be exempt in the short term. EV sales are expected to double this year on the 3,200 sold in 2017 and the forecast is for sales to reach 14,000 a year by 2020.
Tesla believes electric-only is the way forward. The Model S is pricey at €70,000 to €80,000 and upwards, and has understandably small sales. But the Model 3, expected here by 2020, will be the big seller for the company. Several hundred thousand orders have been placed worldwide but production has been slow. Prices in the UK are expected to be in the region of £40,000, so that’s €50,000-plus here.
The big buzz about the junior model is the powerful motor and battery pack that gives a range of 310 miles (498km), lowest rate of road tax and virtually no servicing charges. An owner of a Model S told an information day at the Tesla Irish HQ in Sandyford that having clocked up a mileage of more than 60,000km, the only expense he incurred was the replacement of two front tyres. Another selling point for Tesla is that models are future-proofed, as the latest technology and upgrades can be downloaded into the vehicle. AutoPilot brings the car a step closer to autonomous driving.
The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the world with 283,000 models sold and the new, more powerful battery and motor can give a range of 235 miles (378km), Nissan claims. This is an increase of 50pc, with the possibility of filling the battery pack to 80pc capacity in 40 minutes on a fast charger.
Nissan now has ProPilot, a suite of autonomous driving aids which can take control of accelerator, brakes and steering on the motorway. An e-Pedal uses regenerative coasting and braking to slow the car down as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator while still topping up the battery.
The Government has given tax incentives for sole traders who can save €12,000 under an EV Accelerated Capital Allowance deal by front loading the depreciation in the first year. This is on top of the purchase price tax incentives and there is also a zero benefit in kind for those who drive an electric company car.