The recent progress made by Ireland in paving the way for an electric future is nothing short of impressive!
An early commitment made by the ESB to provide the necessary infrastructure followed by the official signing of an historic electric car agreement meant that a specially formed Renault - Nissan strategic alliance could count on Ireland as a real champion for their electric technology.
Four months on and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Radisson hotel in Stillorgan to test drive the first all-electric Nissan LEAF which comes to Ireland in limited supply early next year. It's not often that a car makes such an impact that I decide to order one there and then!
On sale in Ireland in February 2011
The expected allocation for Ireland is a limited 1,000 units and over 100 are already spoken for. The LEAF will be sold in Ireland as a complete unit including the battery, meaning there will be no separate monthly battery leasing charges.
The retail price is €29,995 (€34,995 Less Government grant of €5,000) including the battery but excludes metallic paint and dealer related delivery charges. I'm told delivery charges could be a hefty 1,000 Euro but that's to be confirmed.
This is where the numbers get really exciting. Average annual running costs for LEAF are expected to be approximately €232* (that's less than €20 per month). This represents a saving of over 80% on running costs compared to traditional vehicles *calculated on an average 19,000km per annum.
ESB have committed to install home charging points free of charge to the first 2,000 Electric Vehicle customers. Currently LEAF falls into the lowest bracket for road tax at €104 and a potential for €0 road tax is also being examined as a further Government incentive.
With so much attention on this car there are hundreds of reviews already available but two Irish journalists who drive it recently were seriously impressed.
Paddy Comyn of completecar.ie drove the LEAF in Japan back in June. His thoughts? "We were seriously impressed by our first proper drive in the LEAF. For anyone who lives in an area where the car's range limits are adequate they will be not only getting an amazing piece of 21st Century technology, but a really nice car too. This car is the real deal - more".
Eddie Cunningham, Motoring Correspondant with the Irish Independent was one of the first Irish journalists to drive the LEAF on Irish roads and he found it drove just like any other family car. "The first thing to note is it is normal. It is an electric family car that is different only because it doesn’t have a petrol or diesel engine." You can read his review here.