New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of new electric cars licensed has increased by 65% from 8,309 in the first half of 2022 to 13,701 in the first half of 2023.
The CSO said that in the first six months of this year, 25,446 of the new cars licensed were petrol cars compared with 17,465 in the same time in 2022, an increase of 46%.
At the same time, new diesel cars licensed decreased by 5% from 8,667 to 8,258, the CSO added.
Today’s figures show that Tesla (833) was the most popular make of new private car licensed in June, followed by Volkswagen (788), Toyota (647), Hyundai (348) and Skoda (345).
Together, these five makes represent 53% of all new private cars licensed last month.
The CSO said that in the first half of 2023, 19% of all new cars licensed for the first time were electric compared with 13% in the same time last year.
Overall, the number of new cars licensed in June increased by 48% to 5,584 compared with 3,774 the same time last year.
The number of used (imported) cars licensed in the first half of the year rose by 5% compared with the same period in 2022, increasing to 24,452 from 23,254.
Head of Communications at AA Ireland Paddy Comyn put the jump in sales down to a number of factors, including improved supply, a likely rush to buy before a reduction in grants kicked in on 1 July, and a greater selection in both make and price range.
“Supply has freed up. This time last year we were looking at real supply issues due to a chip shortage and that was effecting EV (electric vehicle) sales dramatically. Now this year that has cleared up,” Mr Comyn said.
Another factor that likely drove sales in the first six months of this year was the impending reduction in the SEAI grant for buying a new electric car.
From 1 July 2023, the maximum grant for buying a new private passenger EV was cut by €1,500 from €5,000 to €3,500.
“With the decrease in the EV grants there has been a rush to avail of those grants before they were reduced,” Mr Comyn said.
Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts.
However Mr Comyn said that in addition to the remaining grant that is available, more affordable EVs have entered the market.
“When they came out initially they were expensive and there wasn’t much choice. Now you can get electric cars as low as €28,000 and they go all the way up to well over €100,000. There is a greater choice, there are probably over 70 models available available across various brands,” Mr Comyn said.
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021 set a target of having 945,000 electric vehicles in the Irish fleet by 2030.
Even given the recent increase in EV sales which Mr Comyn described as “dramatic”, he believes that that target remains unrealistic.
“On a positive side that was a good target to have but it was never going to be reached,” Mr Comyn said.
A Department spokesperson said that while the target of 945,000 electric vehicles by 2030 remains in place, it should be seen in the context of an overall effort to reduce the number of private cars on our roads.