Ireland is set on a path of becoming more energy sufficient and reducing its carbon footprint. To that end, there has been a national drive, replete with incentives, the latest being the €5000 grant towards the cost of a new EV aimed at greatly increasing the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads. However, with the Mitsubishi electric car selling at about €45,000 a pop, I cannot see a rush to buy them, even with the grant!!
My suggestion is that instead of importing 100% of the electric vehicles EVs over the coming years, and thereby sending some €7bn (estimated), over 3 years, out of the country, that we set up a government backed, uniquely managed, and centralised national electric vehicle (EV) retro-fit conversion programme. The purpose of the programme to manage the setting up of an infrastructure to convert, as many existing cars and commercial vehicles as possible to electric power.
It is vital that a retrofit EV project is not left to open market forces. It is equally vital that is does not fall prey to the civil service or other forms of institutional thinking or political jockeying.
The project would need a central purchasing and warehousing facility, several regional retrofit factories, and a collect and return facility. Training mechanics would need to be undertaken on a national basis, Fás might be utilised here. Initially experts from the US would be needed to train the trainers.
The enterprise like this would need careful and expert planning, the extent of which is beyond my scope to outline.
Why Retrofit EVs
1. Retrofitting ICE vehicles is a tried and tested strategy in the USA and has been in operation for many years. Many people believe that retrofits are better in quality and performance than most new EVs.
2. New types of highly efficient and cheaper batteries are soon coming onto the market, these would make a retrofit better than a lot of existing EVs.
3. Existing car owners get to keep their favourite, comfortable, safe, and familiar car or van. They could have it converted to an EV in a week or less for a small fraction of the cost of buying a new EV
4. Converting would save Ireland overseas spending of billions of our Euros on imported new electric vehicles.
5. EV conversion factories would provide many jobs for mechanics at central locations, and would additionally stimulate many ancillary services.
6. EV retrofitting would mitigate the cost of scrappage schemes and the need to deal with so many unwanted (ICE) vehicles.
7. The cost to owners would be a fraction of the cost of a new EV.
8. Savings in fuel, maintenance, lower road tax etc. would pay for a retrofit in a few years.
9. More EVs on the road would save the country hundreds of millions every year on imported fuel.
10. Most importantly, it would substantially boost the current national drive towards sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint, and moving towards energy sufficiency.
The efficiency of the project would be greatly increased by having central conversion facilities. Additionally, materials costs could be substantially lowered by high quantity purchasing of batteries, motors, control gear etc. at a properly managed purchasing and distribution centre. It would be vital that ALL these saving be passed to the end user, and perhaps sweeten it further with a FAT grant.
If this is to work, the gougers and rip-off merchants must be vigorously kept out of the loop, and no self-serving public body or civil service needs to be involved either, as they tend to complicate everything they put their hands to!!!