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Explainer: Everything you need to know about owning an electric car in Ireland

In several ways, the Climate Action Plan raises as many questions as solutions for motorists. That is only to be expected given the scope and timeframe.But it means people are unsure of practical elements such as how and where will they charge their electric vehicle. What is it all going to cost you? What can you buy now – or wait for?Here is an attempt to deal with some of those issues.ChargingThe ESB maintains around 1,100 public charging points on the island, including more than 300 in the North. They are on the street, in public transport car parks and other places and are free. Most give a standard charge – it can take hours to ‘fill up’. However, there are increasing numbers of ‘fast-charge’ points. They will give you a big boost in 30 minutes. Both will ultimately incur payment.The European IONITY network will have six powerful chargers at key locations by the end of 2019.But more than 80pc of charging will be done at home. You get the charging unit set up and then apply for a €600 Government grant. It will not always cover the cost of the unit (typically €700-€800) while installation fees are extra. The plan lays down potential solutions for apartment dwellers but I’m not so sure it works in all circumstances. On-street parking is another difficulty; you can’t have a flex straddling the footpath to your house.Costs and incentivesWhat is owning an EV going to cost you? A lot less to run than a petrol or diesel. But – and it’s a big but – the Government will have to raise the money for the electric era due to the erosion of billions from excise duty on fossil fuels and lower VRT from cleaner vehicles (EVs).The Exchequer collected €2,433m in excise duty, €1.5bn in VRT and VAT receipts from car sales last year. Road tax came to €777.2m.While you may also avail of a proposed ‘scrappage scheme’ you will pay in the long run, in ways yet to be devised, costed or published. We will be paying for on-street public charging soon enough. VRT could be increased.Don’t forget either that, right now, Government subsidises EVs to the tune of €10,000 (€5,000 VRT rebate, €5,000 SEAI grant) and allows zero BIK on company cars. How long can that go on? Current incentives expire in 2021. Yet without those major incentives, buying an EV will be out of the question for most.More than 20pc of new-car sales in 2021 will be EV it is forecast. Can the Exchequer afford to subsidise them all?How to buy?It’s the same as buying an ordinary car.Most dealers sort out the rebates and grants and you pay the net price of the car after these sums have been deducted.What’s on sale and what’s on the way?Here’s a quick run-through of many marques showing what you can buy now. As you’ll see nearly everyone is getting in on the act, but most are ‘next year’ or beyond. Prices are after incentives have been included.Alfa Romeo’s Tonale goes on sale next year. Audi has the large e-Tron (€90,000-plus) and a smaller one coming. BMW has the i3 (€50,000 approximately) on sale, an iX3 SUV sooner and i4 later.The DS3 Crossback gets an electric variant early next year. And Fiat has a 500EV for 2020. Late 2019, Ford will have a Mustang-inspired electric SUV (600km range). Honda’s EV will be unveiled at Frankfurt in September.The Hyundai Kona (late €30,000s) has been highly popular here; a revised IONIQ is expected next month. Jaguar’s large i-Pace SUV is on sale (€84,000-plus) as are the newly arrived Kia e-Niro and e-Soul – from €33,000. Mercedes’s first electric car, the EQC, debuts later this year (from €80,000).There will be a Mini EV in 2020, while Nissan is adding a more powerful 62kw Leaf to the existing model (€30,000).Opel’s new Corsa will have an electric version in March. Peugeot’s 208 hatchback will have the option of an EV powertrain.Renault’s revised Zoe is due by year’s end while Seat’s first EV, the El Born, is due by the end of next year. As is Skoda’s first electric small EV. Tesla’s Model 3 costs from €48,900. Models X and S are already here. The Volkswagen e-Golf is on sale for some time. Next year comes the electric Volkswagen ID.3 (€30,000).On the forecourtsWhat does EV driving mean for garage forecourts? Circle K, for one, says it is working to facilitate a smooth transition to EV usage. It claims it has the largest number of high-speed charge points through its partnership with ESB.

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First Drive in Frankfurt: Merecedes GLC

A LOT happened in one day at the recent launch of the revised Mercedes GLC mid-size SUV. Not only did I get to drive the car with its new 2-litre diesel engine, I also got to try out the GLC F-Cell (hydrogen fuel-cell) hybrid. And I drove the outrageously fast GLC AMG 63 V8 4-litre (0-100kmh/3.8secs, 510bhp, 700Nm) powerhouse.
I also took the car, in Coupé guise, over a challenging off-road track. Not bad, eh?
The GLC, rival for the likes of the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and BMW X3, benefits from nip, tuck and tidy styling enhancements, as well as the inclusion of the MBUX infotainment system.
More important still is the arrival of their own new 4cyl, 2-litre diesel and petrol powerplants. They are part of a €3bn engine development plan which defies the claim that diesel is dead. Important too is the arrival of a two-wheel-drive version.
With lower emissions due to the engine and 2WD, the price comes down and now starts from €48,040 (Coupé from €51,540).
This 2-litre is a major improvement on the old 2.1-litre that noisily pushed so many GLC stablemates down the years. This quickly settled into quiet mode and had loads of pulling power.
The “new” GLC (standard, Coupé) gets to Ireland for the 192-plate next month.
On sale from launch (all with 4cyl engines) will be a 200 4Matic, 300 4Matic, 200d 4matic, 220d 4matic and a 300d 4matic.
The most popular will be the GLC 200d and GLC 220d (standard, Coupe) with 2WD on both.
Expect a petrol hybrid later and a diesel plug-in this time next year.
While the 200d and 220d are the core cars (I drove the 300d 4matic), other variants were at opposite ends of the spectrum: the AMG 63 and Hydrogen F-Cell hybrid.
The latter is a fascinating prospect. The battery pack is under the boot, while accommodating the hydrogen tank necessitated raising the rear seats by 3mm. But you’d hardly notice, as there is such an amount of headroom due to the tall roofline. The rest of the car is untouched. Talk about a good fit – even the engine bay layout and size is unchanged.
It’s straightforward to fill up and/or charge. On the road it was electric-car quiet, really quick off the mark and mid-speed responsive. Heavily insulated, we didn’t notice road/tyre noise.
We drove it against the backdrop of news that a coordinated Irish attempt to promote and develop hydrogen as a power source had begun. Ireland hasn’t taken hydrogen seriously – yet.
Then we took the GLC AMG63 for a 100km-plus drive near Frankfurt. This is simply the fastest mid-size SUV in the world, they say. On the basis of intermittent bursts of speed and acceleration, I believe them. Ditto for their top speed claim of 280km/hour. There was one unlimited stretch of autobahn where… well, maybe it’s best not to go into too much detail.
This let us briefly sample what genuine power can do to a car and its driver.
Anyway, those updated “GLC family” models come hot on the heels of five new arrivals from Mercedes this year. Seven more are due: a new V-Class, GLS, EQC, GLA Shooting Brake and GLB 7-seater (October).
By the way, the MBUX multimedia system and its ‘Hey Mercedes’ signature expand with each model phase. Driver assistance systems include distance, brake and steer assist with automatic speed monitoring.
There is a 9spd 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and a long menu of on/off-road drive modes, dynamic body control suspension and drive settings, etc.
The car is going to be driven on the tarmac but for the 1pc who’ll take it off-road, I think you’ll find it impressive. It, and its technology, coped well with serious climbs, plunging descents, three-wheel passages and heavy slants.
But let’s finish on a high (performance and price). The “hot” AMG 63 4Matic will cost north of €123,000 for the 8cyl 476hp version, with the S variant (510hp) yours for around €136,000.
All in a day’s driving.

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The Electric vehicle revolution means sales people need knowledge

I doubt the sales executives in dealerships have ever had to learn, or impart, as much information. Sure, we hear about people going into dealers with their minds made up on what they are going to buy after working everything through online. But that is usually accompanied by a detailed list of questions. Now when it comes to anything electric (hybrid to full EV) the time taken to inform and impart runs to extraordinary lengths. It can run to a couple of hours (James Brooks of Kia mentioned as much in a presentation this week).
The sales exec has to be the go-to person, especially in the chaos around the electric revolution.
It’s a bit like starting all over again. And I, for one, am glad of that. We had got to a stage where selling had become functional in too many cases. Now there is real engagement. That’s how it should be. People will make better choices and not end up, as happened in the past, with buyers driving off in a diesel to cover 7,000kms a year.
This just in – the new Peugeot 508SW
Peugeot have just announced prices and specifications for the new 508 SW (pictured). The estate starts from €34,110 excluding delivery-related charges.
That’s for the Active 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6spd manual. With order books open they expect first deliveries from July 1.
With the same front as the 508 fastback, the estate’s gives the bodyline a slick look.
Load space is from 530 litres with the luggage cover closed and extends to 1,780 litres when the rear seats are flattened.
There are Active, Allure, GT Line and GT trims. And there are two new petrols and four diesel options. These are based on the 1.6-litre PureTech petrol and 1.5-litre BlueHDi and 2.0-litre BlueHDi engines.
At the end of the year we’ll see a 225bhp plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. They are claiming a pure-electric range of range of 50km (WLTP).

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