Irish motorists: We want greener cars, or maybe no cars at all

Irish car buyers are increasingly factoring climate change concerns into their car buying decisions. That’s according to research from Europcar Mobility Group Ireland. The research indicates that some 47 per cent of people are thinking of abandoning private car ownership altogether, as a response to worries about climate change, and the likely increase of taxes on motoring.

It’s worth pointing out that this research comes from a car rental company, and one which furthermore includes GoCar, the on-street micro-rentals service, as part of its group, so there’s a level at which data like this is exactly that which a company seeking to disrupt traditional ownership models might like to publicise. Nevertheless, if it is true, then it’s a massive change in the mindset of the Irish motorist, hitherto considered to be a very conservative part of the consumer market.

Attitudes to car ownership


Colm Brady, managing director of Europcar Mobility Group Ireland, said: “People’s attitudes to car ownership and sustainable transport are constantly evolving, and now, more than ever before, they are rethinking their individual transport requirements and considering flexibility, cost and importantly — environmental impact. A huge number of people in Ireland are still reliant on car ownership as a primary form of transport, but we can see from the research that almost half will reconsider their decision in the coming years primarily for environmental reasons. At Europcar Mobility Group Ireland, we understand this growing demand for a more holistic and sustainable approach to daily transport and are committed to providing convenient transport solutions, including car rental and car sharing, which can be used in conjunction with other transport types to accommodate the individual transport needs of the public in a sustainable way.”

Other interesting numbers


Europcar’s data shows that 47 per cent say that climate change, and the likely taxes that will be levied because of it, will affect their decision to own a car in the next ten years. 48 per cent say that they doubt that the Government will be able to hit its climate targets either way.

Slightly more than one third, 35 per cent, say that Dublin should consider a city-centre ban on internal combustion engines of any type, by 2030.

Half have said that they will consider buying an electric or hybrid car in the next five years, well ahead of the percentages saying that they will consider diesel (18 per cent) or petrol (15 per cent).

While these figures are possibly unsurprising, given the swirling publicity over climate change, green cars and electric motoring, what is surprising is that Irish drivers are massively underestimating the annual cost of their motoring. Most believe that their car costs them around €6,000 a year — according to the AA, the actual figure is €10,500 on average.

Changing views of car drivers


While there is a great deal of idealism about the idea of buying an electric or hybrid vehicle, the vast majority of respondents are still ultimately doubtful of doing so — 77 per cent say that the availability of electric car charging points would hold them back from committing, while 68 per cent say that the cost of such new, green, vehicles would be a barrier to entry. Almost half of respondents said that they would buy a new electric vehicle if the Government reduced the cost of Vehicle Registration Tax on such cars — apparently ignorant of the fact that VRT is effectively reduced to zero on almost all electric cars. 15 per cent plan to increase their use of car sharing services in the next five years along with 12 per cent expecting to increase use of bike sharing schemes, 14 per cent increasing use of car rental, and 11 per cent increasing use of electric scooters. 14 per cent are likely to reconsider owning a car due to greater remote working flexibility.

Similar results from the market


The figures interested in buying an electric car tally, roughly with research carried out earlier this year by car sales website Carzone. In that survey 61 per cent of Irish buyers said they have seen their running costs increase in the past 12 months, and that this is potentially pushing them to switch to an alternative-fuel vehicle for their next purchase. Of those asked, 60 per cent said that they’re aware of their nearest electric car charging point, and 40 per cent said that it’s within 2km of their front door. That leaves a worrying 40 per cent who have no idea of local charging points, and a further 60 per cent who said that they were unaware of the €5,000 grant available from the SEAI for buying an electric car.

Equally worrying, one motorist in ten said that they don’t know the difference between an electric car, and a hybrid.