Mitsubishi Motors has signed a memorandum of understanding with several Irish partners to trial electric vehicles in Ireland.

The MOU follows hard on the heels of Renault-Nissan ‘s recent announcement it would also trial its EV vehicles in Ireland in conjunction with government initiatives to develop a nationwide charging infrastructure and purchase grants.

MMC will supply its i-MiEV model across Ireland in tandem with Irish electricity board ESB ‘s charging network, while a team from Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD ) School of Engineering will analyse customer behaviour and attitudes to the scheme.

The Irish government has set itself an ambitious target that 10% of all vehicles should be electric by 2020 and has unveiled grants of EUR5,000 (US$6,200) to incentivise purchase. EV buyers will also be exempt from vehicle registration tax.

“The memorandum with Mitsubishi and ESB’s trial with Trinity College is another important milestone in the electrification of the Irish motoring fleet,” said communications, energy and natural resources minister Eamon Ryan.

“Ireland is leading the way and with such innovation from ESB, TCD and our new partnership with Mitsubishi, our international position is further strengthened. Irish drivers and the Irish economy will only benefit.”

The ESB has committed to installing 1,500 publicly accessible charging stations, 2,000 domestic charging points and 30 fast charging units on a nationwide basis throughout Ireland by the end of 2011. A ‘smart charging system’ is also to be introduced for home use.
 
“Ireland is at the forefront of adopting electric vehicles and ESB is pressing ahead with its charging points programme,” said ESB chief executive Padraig McManus.

“As a major force in the global market, Mitsubishi Motors’ endorsement of Ireland as an environment for EVs is extremely encouraging. The pilot project will provide ESB with a more in-depth knowledge of how the technology and its integration into the electricity network will work.” 

Mitsubishi Motors has made 15 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs available in advance of its European launch in October this year.

“The test programme announced today will provide important feedback as we plan for the European version launch of the i-MiEV in October, when the cars will be available to Irish consumers,” said MC Automobile (Europe ) president and CEO Tomoo Yoshikawa.

The ESB 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.