Renault is one auto giant that's upping its electrification game in a big way. Today, it declared that one in 10 vehicles sold by Renault in Ireland in 2012 will be electric.
It's an impressive challenge, but it's being supported by utilities such as ESB, which is really pushing Ireland's electricification plans, kitting out the country with more than 2,500 electric charge points, so that drivers can increase their driving ranges and drive between urban centres.
Speaking today, Renault Ireland's managing director Eric Basset said he has set a challenge for his dealer network and team that will see 1,000 Renault electric vehicles sold by the manufacturer in Ireland next year. The Renault boss, who has overseen the automaker's market share double since his arrival in Ireland in 2009, is confident that one in 10 Renault vehicles sold in 2012 will be electric.
By the end of the year, ESB ecars is aiming to install up to 2,000 home charge points, 1,500 public charge posts across Ireland and 30 fast-charge points. Fast-charge points enable drivers to power up their electric cars from zero to 80pc of their capacity in less than 30 minutes.
Earlier this week, ESB ecars and Maxol launched new fast-charge points at Maxol's Riverside Service Station in Navan, Co Meath, and Maxol Gorey.
Just a few weeks ago, a Reuters article suggested that Ireland is likely to outperform the US in terms of electric vehicle take-up.
The Irish Government has set ambitious targets for the introduction of e-cars in the coming years, with 10pc of all vehicles to be electric by 2020.
In the Reuters article, reporter John Garter wrote: "To put it in perspective, Ireland will install 1,500 public charging stations in 2011, while the US will see double that number, despite a population that is more than 60 times greater. When you consider that Ireland has no domestic PEV manufacturers, and just two imported vehicles (the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) available today, the commitment is all the more impressive."
Electric vehicles in Ireland
However, right now in Ireland, as well as the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, consumers can also buy French-manufactured MegaCity vehicles.
And, as of today, Renault is introducing its first EV to Ireland. The Renault Kangoo Z.E., the first electric vehicle offering from Renault, is now available to test drive at dealerships. It will cost €16,400 including VRT (excluding VAT) and including the Government grant of €3,800.
One of the unique things about the Kangoo Z.E. is that consumers will have to rent its battery, instead of buying it with the vehicle. The battery will cost around €75 (excluding VAT) per month to lease. Renault is basing this figure on 48 months of driving, covering 15,000km per year.
The electric mini van has already seen a huge interest in France, where 15,000 Kangoo Z.E. vans have been ordered by some of France's largest companies, including La Poste, the French postal service.
The Ford Transit Connect Electric is also now available to buy in Ireland. The automaker's first ever zero-emission passenger car - the Ford Focus Electric - will also be on Irish soil next year. By 2013, Ford is aiming to have five fully electrified passenger cars for sale here.
Speaking today, Renault's Basset said he has stood by his commitment to make electric vehicles affordable to all. He said he wished to remind those "in any doubt that Ireland is leading the way in Europe for infrastructure and availability of electric vehicles".
It was back in 2008 that Renault launched its electric vehicle offensive in 2008, with the announcement of a line-up of four electric models, the first of which arrived on Irish roads today.
Now Renault is aiming to have the Kangoo Z.E. mini van, the Fluence ZE Saloon, the Twizy urban quadricycle and the stylish compact hatch, the ZOE, on Ireland's roads, giving consumers greater choice when opting for electric vehicles.
The Renault Kangoo Z.E. will be available in three sizes, including the Kangoo Maxi Z.E. two-seat and five-seat models. It comes with five years' unlimited mileage warranty as standard, Renault confirmed today.
Basset also said today that he believes the Renault Irish team is the best-trained network in electric vehicles in all of Europe following extended training over the past year in technology, after sales, and customer care.
"Ireland is ready for electric. It's not our future, it's the present," said Basset today.