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Irish govt powers up electric vehicle drive

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'Leccy Tech The Irish Government has been bitten by the 'leccy car bug. Last week, it announced that it wants ten per cent of the cars running on Ireland's roads to be powered by electricity. That means 250,000 of them humming around the Emerald Isle by 2020.

A national task force will be set up to put flesh on the bones of this ambitious project, which will include the development of a national charging infrastructure that will include electric "filling stations" with battery-swap facilities.

Most motorists are expected to recharge their EVs overnight from domestic sockets. Ireland currently produces around ten per cent of its electricity from wind energy and plans to increase the proportion of power from renewable sources dramatically in the next decade.

Other key announcements include the setting up of a €1m ($1.26m/£855,000) R&D fund, tax incentives for companies buying electric vehicles and assistance for individual buyers. Under the company tax incentive scheme, businesses buying EVs will be able to write off the entire cost against their tax bill.

No details were announced about how private purchasers would benefit, though they will be issued with a "buyer's guide" and a "cost of ownership calculator" in an attempt to persuade them to switch to a greener automotive alternative.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan – of the Green Party - said costs of electric vehicles would fall as they became more popular. "When you mass-produce electric vehicles, you'll see the cost dropping," he said. "When you provide the infrastructure to make it viable, that'll bring the cost down. We want to see tens of thousands of vehicles being sold, not a couple of hundred. In those circumstances they will be cheaper.”

However, Simon Coveney, Fine Gael's spokesman on energy, described the government's plans as “an unambitious and inadequate response to the emissions problem in the transport sector”.

Leccy cars may not be a dirty business, but politics still is.

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