Practical tips on buying an electric car

With the recent shift in public attitudes to ‘Green’ policies, it is clear that more and more people want to do the right thing from an environmental perspective. At a household level, Reduce Reuse Recycle is a still a simple, effective environmentally-friendly way of reducing our footprint and taking those important steps that can add up to make a big difference. Motoring is a big part of the environmental debate. Of course, where possible, public and mass transport is the best way to doing the right thing but this may not offer a practical solution to everybody making motoring a necessity.

If you have been wondering what the best option for the environment is, the simple answer at this point in time is electric. Hybrid is also very good as it means that we use less petrol and diesel than traditional internal combustion engines. When it comes to electric, make sure you are fully informed before you take the electric plunge. Electric cars are more expensive than their traditional engine (petrol or diesel) counterparts. But it is possible to get the cost recovered with savings in fuel, taxes, and a range of grants available (you can read more on the grant provisions HERE).

Electric car or hybrid car?

There may be similar technologies that overlap between the hybrid and electric but there are also major differences. First, on the similarities, both employ various amount of electrical input to drive the car but the hybrid option alternates between electric and standard internal combustion whereas the electric vehicle in fully electric, there is no alternative petrol or diesel back-up. Second, you really need to consider your driving needs. If you are based in an urban setting or one that provides a ready, convenient recharging facility presently and your daily driving requirements are relatively minimal, this may be ideal for a fully electric vehicle. However, if you drive a lot, are not living close to a recharging facility, this may be more suited to a hybrid option. With traditional hybrids, there is no need to plug them in. The electric power is there to support the fuel engine and not replace it. Finally, you will find that driving in an urban setting means that with the hybrid, the car will mostly run on electric power, making them a lot more economical than your typical petrol or diesel car.

New or pre-owned?

The popularity of electric vehicles in Ireland is increasing but it is still at a very low base and nowhere close to the targets set by Government in 2010. That said, the number of people talking about and buying electric and hybrid cars is increasing all of the time. Today, most electric cars in Ireland are original purchases but there is a fledgling market for second-hand electric cars. This forces a new decision on would-be buyers of electric vehicles; new or pre-owned? Value for money – on the cost of buying a second-hand vehicle, even in the case you find what looks a really good deal, keep in mind that car battery technology is evolving rapidly.

Pay attention to the service history, especially the health of the battery. Electric car batteries need to be able to charge quickly, retain their charge and last for a period of time that makes using the vehicle a reliable transport for the owner. What you need to avoid is a battery that is unreliable, either due to the technology or the lack of care by the previous owner.

Does an electric car benefit my overall budget?

There is no denying that electric car costs represent a price premium when compared to traditional engines. However, on the cost of driving the car, those drop significantly. One reason for this is there is a network of charging stations across Ireland that are currently made available free of charge. Keep in mind that this could change in the future. Also, it is important to note that you must apply to ESB for a card, details available HERE

Separately, it is possible to install a charging point at your home. There is a grant available for this, more information is available HERE.

Road tax. Road tax is calculated on the emissions level of your vehicle, so an electric battery vehicle falls into the lowest bracket.

Can I get a grant for an electric car?

Yes, and you should fully inform yourself about the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) grants. The SEAI offers electric vehicle grants up to the value of €5,000 when purchased privately. Grants are not available for electric cars costing less than €14,000. Once you have decided on the model of electric car you want, the car dealer will apply for the grant on your behalf and this will be deducted from the overall price. Check out the SEAI for more details.

Can I get a loan for an electric or hybrid car?

Yes. St. Joseph’s Irish Airports & Aviation Credit Union believes that is important that we do our part to support the environment…and our members that want to do theirs too! If you are thinking about switching to an electric vehicle or hybrid, remember our loan team are here to support you. You can check out our best loan rates HERE