NI climate change target: 'More charging points needed for electric cars'

  • Northern Ireland needs to boost the sale of its electric vehicles in order to hit its “ambitious” climate change targets, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT).

    "This includes a long-term government commitment to purchase incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure,” said the society’s chief executive, Mike Hawes.

    In 2019, only 427 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were sold in NI; an increase from 165 in 2015.

    The BBC reported that there are currently 337 public charging points for electric vehicles across Northern Ireland. This is despite a government commitment in January 2014 to bring the total number to 500.

    According to BBC News NI, a Department for Infrastructure spokesman said "funding constraints across the public sector" were to blame for the missed target.

    RELATED: UK electric car users tripled in latter part of 2019, says research

    The spokesperson added that 54 charge points had been installed at hospitals, health trusts, government department offices and local council offices, continuing: "Should public funding become available for the installation of additional charge point infrastructure, departmental officials will liaise closely with commercial providers and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to ensure the charging infrastructure continues to remain fit for purpose."

    Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that £10m would be provided for on-street charge points, doubling the current funding "to make electric cars the new normal".

    However, the Department for Infrastructure could not confirm how much of the funding would be spent in Northern Ireland.

    (c) SMMT

    Department for Transport figures near the end of 2019 showed that the number of low-emission vehicles in NI rose by 18% in the year to end of September, while the total number of vehicles increased by just 2%.

    RELATED: Ulster University researchers to explore electric vehicle potential

    Greg Wilson, founder of Belfast-based car insurance comparison websites CompareNI and Quotezone, said that while the total number of low-emission vehicles remained relatively low their popularity was growing fast. 

    "The impressive growth in the number of drivers opting for an ultra-low emission vehicle over a petrol or diesel motor is very welcome news - not only because these vehicles are better for the environment, but also because the growing number on Britain's roads should gradually help to reduce the cost of insuring these cars. 

    This is taking into consideration electric hybrid cars, which Caroline Willis, finance director of Shelbourne Motors said shows a change in consumer attitudes: “"More charging points could encourage the move to fully electric.”

    She added that the government’s 2035 target for BEV-only sales is achievable, “but needs action now.”

    This target has been set by the government in order to achieve an “almost entirely zero emission fleet by 2050.”

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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