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How green is the Emerald Isle really?

Our ‘Electrifying Europe Tour’ ends on 8th May in Limerick, Ireland. What makes the Emerald Isle tick when it comes to alternative drives and new mobility concepts? Here’s an overview.

Anyone who has ever been to Ireland can confirm that it is lusher and greener than anywhere else. That is mainly due to its mild climate and plentiful rain. Ireland glows with a range of intense shades of green, especially when the sun shines. Country legend Johnny Cash noticed it too, singing of the beauty of this island nation in his song, “Forty Shades of Green”. But what about the transport revolution in the land of the shamrock in this era of climate change? Is it just the meadows and forests, or are Irish mobility concepts green too?

Ireland, a member of the European Union since 1973, is home to 4.9 million people, a third of whom live in the Dublin metropolitan region. Some 1.7 million cars are currently registered. According to SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland) around 45,000 of these were electric cars, including plug-in hybrids, at the end of 2021. The trend is only going upwards: the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) says that 8,646 new electric cars were registered in 2021 alone, more than double the 4,013 registered in 2020.

0 Electric Cars

were registered in Ireland by the end of 2021, plug-in hybrids included (source: SEAI)


0 Electric Cars

were registered only in 2021 (source: SIMI)


A panoramic view of Ireland's landscape.
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Beautiful Ireland: Due to its lush meadows and dense forests Irlans is known as "The Emerald Isle". It should stay that green.

0 Electric Cars

were registered in the EU in 2021.


The proportion of electric cars in Ireland and Germany is 2.6 per cent

This means that around eight per cent of all new private cars registered in 2021 in Ireland were electric cars, including plug-in hybrids. Their share of all the cars on the road is currently around 2.6 per cent. For comparison, in Germany according to the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Vehicle and Transport Authority), 1.3 per cent of all registered vehicles on 1st January 2022 were electric cars, while a further 1.3 per cent were plug-in hybrids. That makes a total of 2.6 per cent. The trend is definitely upwards.

In 2021, a total of 878,432 electric vehicles were registered throughout the EU. That figure was just 538,734 in 2020. The frontrunner was Germany with 356,425 cars, followed by Great Britain (190,727), France (162,167), Norway (113,751) and Italy (67,283). Under the terms of the EU climate package, greenhouse gas emissions in Europe must be 55 per cent lower than in 1990 by 2030. No more cars with internal combustion engines can be manufactured after 2035. This means zero emissions for all newly registered private cars, from the smallest city cars to big SUVs and light commercial vehicles. The EU Commission has established a framework for larger commercial vehicles with the Green Deal: to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, it will be necessary to significantly reduce the number of fossil fuel-powered trucks and buses over the next 20 years.

The road traffic of Ireland.
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Green Deal in Ireland as well: According to the government, the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle will increasingly switch to buses and bicycles in the cities.

Ireland orders new electric buses

It’s not just about cars though, things are afoot on the Emerald Isle in the bus sector too. The first fully electric regular bus service was launched in Dublin back in 2020, with other cities following suit. The Irish National Transport Authority (NTA) has also recently ordered 200 electric buses. On top of those, the NTA says that some 800 double-decker electric buses are to be brought into service between 2022 and 2027 to replace old diesel buses.

The Irish government is essentially planning to reduce its transport expenditure by between 42 and 50 percent by 2030. To achieve this, half a million daily trips must be shifted to walking, cycling or public transport. Furthermore, the proportion of biofuel used by public transport will be increased and the fleet of electric buses and trains will be expanded. All public transport and fleets are to be converted to low-emission alternatives. To enable higher levels of electrification in the transport sector, plans include significant expansion of the charging infrastructure.

As part of a comprehensive environmental protection strategy, the Irish government wants to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 at the latest. After that, all new cars and trucks on Ireland’s roads will be electric. In other words, they want to get some one million EVs onto the streets by 2030. On top of this, there will be 1,500 electric buses. The Emerald Isle really is green!

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are expected to roll on Irish roads by 2030.


Text   Boris Pieritz
Photos   Getty Images, VW, NTA

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