Time was when a plug in the front garden was a signal the house boasted an electric mower. That was posh in the 1960s. Now a more elaborate plug is equally snobbish – you own an EV, the car of the future with zero emissions to help save the environment.
EVs have had their growing pains – range anxiety and the availability, or lack of, charging points for long journeys. But the tide is turning and more and more car-makers are switching on to the reality that the plug lead, not the fuel hose, is the way forward.
Motoring analysts are predicting that by 2025, one in six cars sold will be an EV, and that by 2035 there will be 125 million on roads worldwide compared to 2.5 million today.
Here, the Government is targeting 500,000 EV sales by 2030, backed up by hefty grants, and has decided that after that date, only zero emission cars – this excludes hybrids – can be registered for road use.
In a sluggish motoring market, interest in EVs is on the rise with 182 sales for various brands so far this year and Nissan, which sold 400 Leaf models in their best year to date, is set to beat that figure in the first four months of this year.
The Leaf was the car that heralded the EV movement here eight years ago and is now in its second generation, while many other manufacturers are starting to electrify existing models. Apparently 200 ‘EVangelists’ have placed orders for the new model, which went on sale this weekend and which boasts an improved range between charges, along with new driver aid and safety technology. The company is confident of 1,000 sales by the year-end as 2,500 callers have registered online interest.
The new model has a range of 378km (235 miles) based on the NEDC test but the new more real-world motoring WLDT test indicates 270km (168 miles), a big improvement on the 190km (118 miles) for previous Leafs.
With a quick charger (there is a Government grant of €600 for a home charger), the new more powerful 40KW battery can be brought up to 80pc capacity in 40-60 minutes, but home chargers would take 8-10 hours.
There are now 1,200 charging points in the country with free on-street charging in some areas.
The Government is looking at ways to increase the number of charging points with the possibility of attaching them to lamp posts.
Prices for the new model range from €26,290 to €32,600 depending on specification which includes the Government €5,000 purchase grant, a €5,000 VRT relief grant and there is a special €7,000 grant to get taxi drivers behind the wheel.
Road tax costs €120 and Nissan estimates that ‘fuel’ electric charging costs are one cent/km.
The Leaf has just been awarded World Green Car of the Year 2018 and boasts new technology such as e-Pedal which allows accelerating and braking with just one pedal, ProPilot driver assistance which includes intelligent cruise control and lane intervention, SatNav, around-view monitor using four cameras and a ProPilot semi-autonomous parking system.
Expect to see an even more impressive Leaf Plus model some time next year with a 60KW battery and more powerful motor for faster regeneration with a suggested WLDT range of 321km (200 miles).