Richard Bruton, the Minister for Climate Action, has doubled down on the Government’s commitment to banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030 and having one million electric vehicles on the road by then.
This is despite widespread scepticism by nearly everybody else that the latter goal can be achieved.
Never mind, the minister is still hopeful and published the Climate Action Amendment Bill 2019, which is aimed at delivering a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in every sector and ensuring Ireland meets its future climate objectives.
Mr Bruton said the bill was “radical” and a priority for the new Dail term. Well I suppose that the length of that “term” is very up in the air. As well as banning the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030, NCTs on all fossil fuel cars will be stopped from 2045.
However, the latest Carzone Motoring Report which came out at almost the same time as the minister’s bill, has good and bad news for the Government. It finds that diesel remains the most popular engine type to drive, with 58pc of motorists owning this type of vehicle. More than a third (39pc) own a petrol-fuelled car, while only 2pc of respondents drive a hybrid or electric car.
However, motorists would consider a switch to electric and hybrid cars, with 70pc saying they plan to buy an electric or hybrid car in the future. It seems younger drivers (18-24 year olds) are more environmentally conscious, with three-quarters (77pc) likely to purchase an electric or hybrid car in the future compared with those over 45 years old (63pc).
Cheaper running costs (57pc), better for the environment (20pc) and tax incentives (10pc) were the top reasons why people would buy an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Yet on the downside for the Government, 36pc of people were unaware of the goal to reach 100pc of all new cars and vans being EVs by 2030, and only 16pc feel that it is achievable. Minister Bruton has his work cut out for however long he is in charge.
One of the magical things I used to look forward to about the season that has just passed was the getting of the tree in the weeks or days leading up to Christmas and then on January 7 taking it for recycling where the smell of pine needles and wood was almost intoxicating. Now with the trend to have live trees in pots, a lot of the latter might be lessening.
In our case, we haven’t been buying a tree for a few years. A small one we bought when we moved in 10 years ago was planted in the front garden and is now quite enormous, probably gaining about a foot a year. However, we do our best to dress it with lights, baubles and tinsel.
We think it better sharing it with the neighbourhood than having one inside the house. Yet when booking test cars in December, old habits kick in and I try and get at least one big estate – now usually called a sportwagon, tourer or something similar – for a few days. I used to love folding down the seats, putting some old papers on the floor and going in search of the tree. Christmas was beginning.
This last December I was driving the Peugeot 508SW, a drop-dead gorgeous estate version of the award-winning executive saloon. And although it didn’t carry a tree, it did take us in style through the forests and mountains of Wicklow as we went searching for a dog to partner our Jack Russell.
The 508SW shows incredible confidence by Peugeot in declaring that there will still be a strong demand for such vehicles despite the tsunami of SUVs hitting the showrooms across Europe. In fact, on the continent and in Brexitland, the sportwagon/estate car is much more popular than here.
The 508SW is a very relaxing drive, especially with the classy eight-speed automatic box. It is confident and predictable. There is excellent space both front and back with surprisingly – because of the sloping roof – good headroom in the back. The load area isn’t as big as the enormous Skoda Superb estate, which can swallow the whole world, but is better than BMW and Audi offerings, like the 3 Series Touring and A4 Avant. It took my bike with no trouble.
I was driving a GT Line version which is coming down with spec and a very high level of driver aids and safety equipment. Peugeot’s very conscious move up market is on display here. I love the piano key controls on the fascia; however, some might find Peugeot’s now-trademark small steering wheel out of step with such a large car. I didn’t.
Prices for the 508SW start at €33,130, but the GT-line model I was testing came in at €41,280. It had a very efficient 1.5 Blue HDi diesel engine mated to the eight-speed automatic box and attracts a road tax of only €180 a year, which shows just how mad our current system is. Despite my dislike of diesels, generally you cannot help but be impressed by the 508SW.
However, more interestingly and relevant to the climate change proposals with which I started the column is the imminent arrival of the 508 plug-in hybrid range in both fastback (saloon) and SW styles. It will have an 100pc electric range of more than 50km and so will attract the maximum €7,500 SEAI and VRT grants. Charging will take 105 minutes from a conventional wallbox. Boot volumes are identical to the normal combustion models.
With the introduction of the two 508 hybrid models, Peugeot’s aim is to deliver buying and running costs equivalent to that of a traditional diesel 130bhp EAT8 8-speed automatic engine. For business use, this cost is calculated based on 30,000km per year with a driving rate of 65pc in hybrid mode and 35pc in 100pc electric. For private individuals, the calculation is based on an assumption of 15,000km per year with a 50/50 split between hybrid and 100pc electric driving. Also coming are all-new 3008 SUV GT HYBRID4, the e-208 and e-2008 SUV.
By 2023, all Peugeot models will have electric versions.
Plug-in hybrid is the way to go on the road to 2030 but you must have access to a wallbox where you park your car.
Good luck to the Government; however, I feel that an election might come in the way. But such proposals, like healthcare reform and housing, should be bigger than party politics.