2024 EV Sales Lagging in Ireland: 2030 Electric Vehicle Targets May be a Challenge

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Geotab Analysis of data from ACEA reveals significant EV sales decline in 2024, despite 2030 goals

GeoTab a global leader in connected transportation solutions, has published an analysis of European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) data which revealed that Ireland ranked tenth for Electric Vehicles sales across Europe in 2023 but has seen a significant decline in sales in the first quarter of 2024 and recorded the largest year-on-year decline (-41.4%) in EV sales in March 2024 across the EU27. 

Whilst Ireland’s overall market share for zero-emission vehicles grew 14.9% in 2022 to 18.6% in 2023, the latest ACEA sales data for March 2024, presents a significant reversal with Ireland ranking as the worst-performing market in terms of year-on-year sales decline that month across the EU27. Ireland recorded a fall of -41.4% compared to March 2023. The decline stands in stark contrast to other markets such as Belgium and France, which saw double digit rises in BEV sales of +23.8% and +10.9% respectively.

The data underscores the uphill task facing the Government in its efforts to achieve its ambition of having 945,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030. Even in 2023, when sales of EVs increased in Ireland, the rate of growth in Ireland lagged considerably behind its European peers. Despite seeing sales of Electric Vehicles rise by 45.4% over last year, 18 other countries recorded higher levels of growth including Belgium (+148%), Portugal (+101.9%) and Finland (103.3%.)

Commenting on the analysis, Geotab Vice President, Ireland & UK, David Savage said: “With passenger cars responsible for 53% of transport emissions in 2021 – more than heavy goods vehicles, light goods vehicles and buses combined – the Minister for Transport has described the electrification of the national fleet as the biggest policy lever available to the Government within the National Climate Plan. Despite the importance of zero-emission vehicles in achieving the country’s climate targets, EV sales are now in decline in Ireland, with the ACEA data highlighting that the market is underperforming in comparison to many of its EU27 peers.

The two primary factors that need to be addressed to kickstart the market are price and the charging network. Despite the Government’s own advice highlighting the Danish experience, the decision to reduce grants has had a detrimental effect on sales. The consistent feedback we receive from potential EV purchasers in Ireland is range anxiety, with people hesitant to invest in a zero-emission vehicle as they are not fully confident of completing long journeys. Government strategy in this regard centres on home charging, but there is a clear need to bolster the availability of public chargers, particularly rapid chargers.”

In terms of EV sales across the EU27 over the first quarter of 2024, 15 countries recorded positive levels of year-on-year growth until the end of March, with countries like Belgium (+49.6%), Denmark (+27.8%), France (+23.1%), the Netherlands (+19.7%), Portugal (+12.2%) and Spain (+7.7%) all seeing increases. In contrast, Ireland recorded the eighth largest year-on-year fall across the EU 27, with a -14.4% decline in sales for the first three months of the year.

With EV sales now in decline, the Irish Government could learn from other markets and actions that have been taken to increase EV adoption to bolster momentum behind zero-emission vehicles. For example, a report by the Parliamentary Budget Office published in 2022 noted the fall in EV sales in Denmark when financial supports were withdrawn.