Ireland has announced an ambitious raft of initiatives including a EUR5,000 (US$6,780) grant to incentivise electric vehicle purchase, as well as develop charging infrastructure.

The Irish government is targeting a 10% take-up rate for electric vehicles by 2020 and as well as the grant, will exempt EV buyers from vehicle registration tax.

Specifically, the authorities have partnered with electricity supply board ESB and the Renault-Nissan alliance to set up a nationwide charging structure and introduce the automakers' electric vehicles from 2011, although the subsidy applies to all manufacturers' models.

And in a bold move to encourage uptake, ESB will make no charge for domestic charger installation for the first 2,000 cars, while on-street powerpoints will also be free until the end of the year.

"We will be installing the infrastructure but it will be for all [electricity] supply companies - people will decide who they want their suppliers to be," ESB ecars managing director Paul Mulvaney told just-auto.

"There is a whole range of different chargers you could install for a couple of hundred euros to something more expensive. There is a huge level of interest in Ireland - we will be trialling the systems during the next few years."

The Irish government's target is for 10% of the country's vehicles to be electric by 2020, with the new agreement slated to see 2,000 cars on Irish roads by 2011.

ESB will roll out 3,500 charge points nationwide by December 2011, with some already installed in Dublin. Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick are to follow.

The company also plans to install 30 fast-charge points across Ireland by the end of 2011, with nine
expected to be set up by the end of this year.

Nissan will supply its all-electric Leaf hatchback to Ireland in early 2011 while Renault will launch its light commercial electric vehicle, the Kangoo ZE.

By the end of 2011, Renault will also supply 100 pre-production Fluence electric sedans for a pilot project in the country.

All three vehicles will be fitted with lithium-ion batteries produced by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Tonkin.

Renault-Nissan has been negotiating its electric position with the Irish government for some time with the first memorandum of understanding signed 12 months ago.

"Now it is time to go a step further and agree incentives as without knowing those, manufacturers can't really have the possibility to see what they can do," Renault Ireland marketing manager Julien Lelorrain told just-auto.

"The first cars to land in Ireland will be in early 2011 for Nissan and mid-2011 for Renault [which] will be the first manufacturer to provide a full range."

Describing Ireland as a country "ripe for electric vehicle development," Lelorrain added the country had good potential in the sector due to its size and increasing construction of wind farms.

From delivery of the first Kangoo in summer next year, Lelorrain estimates initial uptake will be a couple of hundred vehicles.

Mulvaney also outlined just how quickly Ireland is progressing in terms of alternative energy provision to include electric cars.

"We are decarbonising electricity in Ireland - by 2020 we will have more wind energy installed than our peak load - around 6,000mW," he said.

"Even with electricity generation there is around a 50% reduction in emission with electric cars."