Renault-Nissan have today announced a comprehensive partnership with the Irish Government and Ireland's largest electricity supplier, ESB, that will see the emerald isle become a European leader in Electric Vehicle (EV) transport.
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The Definitive Agreement includes government policies and incentives to support the widespread adoption of EVs, the development of nationwide EV charging infrastructure, and the supply of EVs by the Renault-Nissan Alliance from as early as next year.

To further demonstrate its support of EV technology, the Irish Government announced a €5,000 (AUD$7326) grant to motorists purchasing an electric vehicle, as well as making the cars be exempt from Vehicle Registration Tax.

Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan said the announcement is a big step forward for the country as it moves to adopt a 10 per cent EV ratio by 2020.

"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 Mr Ryan."The Irish Government’s target is for 10 per cent of Ireland’s vehicles to be electric by 2020. Today’s Agreement with Nissan-Renault will see 2000 cars on Irish roads by 2011. This keeps us firmly on track to achieve, if not exceed, our goals,"Those purchasing an electric vehicle will be grant aided by the Government to the tune of €5,000 and exempt from VRT. The ESB will provide the charging infrastructure in the homes of the new owners of electric cars,"Irish motorists can look forward to the cash, cars and charging points that will make the electric car the smart choice for the Irish motorist."

The agreement will see ESB introduce 3500 EV charging stations across the country by December next year. The infrastructure has already been introduced in Dublin with the cities of Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick to follow shortly.

The power company will also install 30 fast-charge stations across Ireland by the end of 2011, with nine of the high speed charging points in operation by the end of 2010.

ESB Chief Executive, Padraig McManus said today’s announcement was another important milestone in Ireland's bid to adopt an emissions-free transport system.

"ESB is currently rolling out a nationwide infrastructure to support the widespread use of electric cars," said Mr McManus."Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to have a nationwide electric charging network which will offer opportunities for enterprise and job creation, as well as the obvious environmental benefits of ultimately having a de-carbonised transport fleet."

Renault-Nissan will supply the four-wheeled solution to the plan with the Nissan Leaf and Renault Kangoo ZE to be sold there from early next year. By the end of 2011, Renault will also introduce 100 pre-production examples of its Fluence ZE model to Ireland as part of a pilot program. The Fluence ZE will commence retail sales there in 2012. The Nissan Leaf will be available in Australia from 2012.

Each of the vehicles are equipped with the latest lithium-ion battery technology. The batteries are produced by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Tonkin.

Executive vice president of planning and control at Renault, Philippe Klein said the group's commitment to EVs is being supported by announcements such as the one made today.

"The Renault-Nissan Alliance’s commitment to the global mass marketing of electric vehicles requires the close cooperation of many partners around the world," said Mr Klein."Thanks to Ireland’s determination to be a leader in electric mobility transport, the necessary conditions - including incentives and infrastructure – are being put in place in this country to allow for the successful adoption of electric vehicles in the near future."

Vice president of product strategy and planning of Nissan International and head of the company’s zero emission business unit in Europe, Pierre Loing said EVs will give Irish customers a lot to look forward to.

"Renault and Nissan look forward to providing Irish customers with affordable, all-electric vehicles that are built to the same high standards in terms of performance, roominess, comfort and quality that customers expect from both brands," said Mr Loing.

The charging infrastructure, which will be designed by ESB, will ensure open access to all electricity suppliers and vehicle manufacturers. The company will begin trialing the charging stations over the coming months to ensure it meets the driving trends and usage patterns of EV customers.

Chairman of Nissan Ireland, Gerard O'Toole says the occasion marks a new datum point for EV technology in Ireland.

"Nissan Ireland is delighted to be part of such an historic occasion for the motor industry in Ireland and Europe," said Mr O'Toole."We look forward to delivering a new and emission-free driving experience to Irish customers with Nissan’s electric vehicles starting with LEAF in early 2011."

Renault's managing director, Eric Basset said Ireland's size made it the ideal test bed for EV technology.

"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," said Mr Basset."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 every day needs of both private and business use."

Both Renault and Nissan are among the leaders in EV development and together have announced a target capacity of 500,000 units per year. To date, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has entered into more than 50 partnerships worldwide with countries, cities, organisations and other key stakeholders to prepare the markets and infrastructure for the successful adoption of electric vehicles.

Australia has already begun its own EV trials with Western Australia already testing similar technology.

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