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Sharp decline in new electric car registrations in March

New car registrations in March were down 16% on the same month last year, figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show, with a marked decline apparent in new electric vehicle registrations.

14,936 vehicles were registered in the month, the figures show, with 2,009 of those electric cars.

That compares with 3,412 electric cars that were registered in March of 2023 – representing a decline of 41%.

“This highlights the ongoing challenge of transitioning to electrification, as we move into the mainstream car market,” Brian Cooke, Director General of SIMI said.

“The electrification of the fleet requires increased collaboration between all stakeholders to bridge this current chasm in the market,” he added.

Mr Cooke said that meant increased investment by industry in the delivery of EV technology, but also the extension of government incentives and further investment in the national infrastructure to boost consumer confidence in switching to electric cars.

For the first quarter, total car sales were up 8% on the first three months of last year, the figures show, with 62,807 cars registered compared to 58,151 between January and March of 2023.

There was an 11% rise in the number of used cars imported in March with 5,216 vehicles brought into the country in the month compared to 4,698 in March of last year.

Petrol cars have been leading the new car market in the first quarter accounting for around a third of purchases by engine type.

That was followed by diesel at 23%, electric at 12.7% and plug-in hybrids, which accounted for just under 8% of cars purchased.

Global fleet management technology company Geotab said the decline in electric car sales was of particular concern given that it represented the fourth year-on-year decline in the last seven months.

“Not only is there no hope of the Government hitting its target of having 945,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030, its 2025 ambition of 195,000 EVs is essentially reliant on fudging the numbers by including vehicle types other than Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) – the only true zero emission vehicles on the roads,” Geotab Vice President for Ireland & UK, David Savage said.

He said the decision to reduce the level of grants available for purchasing an EV was a ‘strategic mistake’ and called on the Government to reverse course and introduce other measures to jumpstart the market.

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