Ireland has moved a step closer to making widespread electric vehicles a reality, announcing generous subsidies for buyers.

Consumers who purchase an electric vehicle will be eligible for a €5,000 grant and exempted from vehicle registration tax. The grants are similar to those already in place in the US, which can be as much as $12,000 (€8,800), taking into consideration both federal and state subsidies available in areas such as California.

"The Programme for Government announced our intention to transform the Irish energy and transport sectors. We have made great strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency and now we begin the electrification of our transport fleet," said Eamon Ryan, the Irish Government's Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Ireland will also install 3,500 electric car charging points across the nation by December 2011. It will make the island one of the most advanced countries in Europe in terms of electric car charging, which is widely viewed as one of the major obstacles to EV adoption.

Car brand Renault also announced that its partner firm Nissan will make the LEAF EV hatchback available in Ireland by early 2011. Renault will launch its light commercial electric vehicle, Kangoo Z.E., later in the year, and 100 pre-production Fluence Z.E. vehicles will by available by the end of 2011.

Ireland has said that it wants ten percent of vehicles in the country to be electric by 2020. Eric Basset, the managing director of Renault Ireland, believes that his country is an ideal choice to spearhead the uptake of EVs.

"Due to its relatively small size, Ireland is ideally suited for the introduction of electric vehicles and as a pilot for the rest of Europe," he said.

"As the population of Ireland is predominantly centered around the major urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, and with the average vehicle covering approximately 75 km per day, electric vehicles are ideally suited to address the everyday needs of both private and business use."


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