About Electric Vehicles (EVs)

What is an electric vehicle (EV)?
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are powered in total or partially, by electric power from batteries charged in the electrical network. Essentially the electric motor replaces the petrol or diesel engine as the means of moving the car. 

What types of EVs are there?

  1. Battery EVs (BEVs) are vehicles powered by one or several electric engines, supplied by electrical energy stored in batteries that have been charged in the electrical network.

  2. Extended-Range EVs (E-REVs) are vehicles of similar characteristics to BEVs where traction is only electrical. However, they also include an internal combustion engine functioning as a generator to charge batteries, increasing the vehicle’s autonomy.

  3. Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEVs) are vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine (ICE) with batteries and an electric engine as well Both engines power the vehicle so it has two external sources of energy: the fuel for the thermical engine and the electrical network for the batteries.

What is the driving range of an electric vehicle?
The range varies depending on the make and model of the EV and is dependent on battery size and capacity as well as weather and driving habits.

How much do EVs cost to buy?
Please go to the relevant car manufacturers websites for more details on the purchase price.  

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle*?
There are three types of charging options:

Home charging – 6 to 8 hours

Public charging (AC) – 1 to 6 hours depending on the car model and range

Fast charging (DC) – 30*minutes to achieve an 80% charge

*Due to different types and battery sizes of EVs, these times may vary.

Why do EV’s charge at different rates?
The rating marked on charge points is the maximum continuous rate of charge available to an EV from the charger.

The vehicles Battery Management System (BMS) continuously controls the rate during a charging session and dictates the rate of charge. The rate depends on a number of factors outside of the control of the charger.

The most common factors effecting the charging rate are:

Make & Model of EV: Some models of EVs are not capable of availing of the full kW available from a charge point but can still obtain a charge suitable to its own maximum charging rate.

State of Charge (SOC) battery: The rate of charging allowed by the EVs BMS reduces as the battery comes closer to fully charged in order to reduce stress on the battery pack. This reduction for most EV models starts around 50% and charge rate reduces dramatically after 80%. Fast charging is most effective up to 80% SOC.

Temperature of Battery: If the battery is too cold or too hot the EVs BMS will adjust the rate of charge to protect the cells of the battery. Some EVs will activate internal heaters or fans to maintain a temperature between 20 and 25C. The main factors effecting battery temperature is the amount of driving and charging done up to the charging session.

What is the motor tax charge on an EV?
EV drivers in Northern Ireland benefit from paying no tax on their vehicle. Check out the ESB cost calculator to see how driving an EV can save you even more money.  

What type of battery is used in an EV?
Modern electric vehicles use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are better for the environment than other types of batteries as they are made from safe and easily recyclable materials. 

What is the lifetime of an EV battery?
Most experts say that the lifetime of a battery is between six and ten years. Once the battery comes to the end of their lifespan, they can be recycled. Some manufacturers offer a battery guarantee on their vehicles of five or seven years or 100’000kms, whichever comes first. Please check with your vehicle dealer for more information.

What are the benefits of driving an electrical car?
EVs offer numerous benefits to customers. Click here for more information.

What are the environmental benefits?
EVs offer a real opportunity to reduce the carbon output of the transport sector, as they emit zero exhaust pipe emissions. Most people will charge their vehicles at night when a higher proportion of electricity is generated from wind. The growth in the generation of electricity from renewable sources offers a route towards carbon free/emissions free motoring.

What are the emission levels of an EV compared with a conventional vehicle?
As more of Ireland’s electricity is generated from renewable energy, the level of emissions associated with electric motoring will approach zero. With the current mix of fuels used to generate electricity in Ireland, emissions will be on average less than half of those of a conventional internal combustion engine.  

Charging your EV

Where can I charge my EV?
There are three charging options to charge your EV: home charging, the public network and at work if your workplace has installed a charger. Please see the charge point map for details on charge point locations across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Charging your EV at home

How do I charge my EV at home?
The safest way to charge an EV at home is to use dedicated electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

This consists of an outdoor socket properly protected against rain and a residual current device type that is designed to handle DC pulses, as well as AC current. A separate circuit from the distribution board should be used to supply the EVSE. Extension leads should not be used, as even uncoiled; they are not intended to carry full rated current for lengthy periods.

Is my home suitable for a charge point installation?
To charge your vehicle at home you will need safe off-street parking such as a driveway, garage or carport. Cables for electric vehicles are usually not very long, so make sure that the parking space is near a suitable plug socket (using an extension lead is not recommended as it is possible it may overheat).

What if I don't own my own home?
If your home is rented, then you will need to provide a letter of permission from your landlord before a charge point installation can be carried out.

How do I apply for a home charge point?
A number of energy suppliers offer home charger installation. The Government offers a grant of up to £500 towards the installation of a home charger unit. The grant is administered by the Office for Low Emissions vehicles (OLEV). Details of the grant scheme can be found here.

How much will it cost for a full charge at home?
A full charge will cost as little as £3.54 by charging overnight at home using discounted night rate electricity. Please contact your energy supplier for more information.

Can I plug my vehicle into my regular house socket, or can I use an extension cable?
No, you cannot plug your vehicle into a regular house or outdoor socket or use extension cables as this may be dangerous. 

How do I find the closest charge point to me?
Information on the location and real time availability status of charge points is provided through the ecar connect mobile app and on the website here.

Are there different charging connectors at the public charging points for different types of EVs?

  1. DC CHADEMO: This connector is used to charge Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi vehicles.

  2. CCS COMBO: This connector is used to charge EVs such as BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai etc.

  3. AC 43: This connector is used for the Renault Zoe and Tesla

I am a new EV driver. Do I need to sign up to use the ecarNI public charging network?
You do not need to sign up to use the ecarNI charge point network. You simply register for an access card which will allow you to charge at any of the fast or rapid charge points in Northern Ireland. However, to use the network of charge points in the Republic of Ireland, you will need to sign up. You must create an account via the ecar connect app. Once you have created your account and chosen your preferred payment option, you’re ready to use the network in the Republic of Ireland. 

How do I start and stop a charging session?
You can start and stop a charging session with the ecar connect app or by using an ecarNI access card.

How long can I stay at an ecarNI charge point?
It typically takes as little as 30 minutes to charge an electric vehicle up to 80% at a rapid charging point. To maximise the availability of fast charge points for all drivers, we encourage you to complete your session within 45 minutes.


Visitors to the ESB Public charging network

I am travelling to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland. How do I use the fast charging network?
The following options are available to you:

  1. Use the one time pay-as-you-go (PAYG) feature of the updated ecar connect app.

  2. Register for our pre-pay service and use the ecar connect app.

  3. Register for our subscription service.

Will my existing Northern Ireland access card work?
Your existing access card will continue to work on the AC charge points in the Republic of Ireland, as well as on the AC and DC units in Northern Ireland. However, you will need to sign up via the ecar connect app or via the website to use the DC network in the Republic or Ireland.

I am a Northern Ireland resident. How will I be charged for using the fast charging network?
You will be billed in euros.

For Business

How can my company benefit from EVs?
The move to electro mobility naturally includes commercial fleets. Current emissions of CO2 in the Irish Transport sector accounts for approximately 13 million tonnes annually, with commercial vehicles contributing to that.

Some of the benefits include significantly lower running costs, fuel duty exemption, vehicle excise duty exemption and enhanced capital allowances. For more information on the incentives for business please click here.  

I am interested in putting EV charge points in my business premises. Who should I speak to?
Please email your query to smartenergy@esb.ie.

Price Plans

How much will it cost to use the ESB public charging network in Northern Ireland?  
Currently, it is free to use both the fast (AC) and rapid (DC) chargers in Northern Ireland.

Will pricing be introduced in Northern Ireland?
There is currently no plans to introduce price plans in Northern Ireland.

ecar connect app

Can I sign-up via the ecar connect app?
Yes you can sign up for the public charging network through the updated ecar connect app. Find the ecar connect app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Can I use the ecar connect app in Northern Ireland?
Yes the ecar connect app will work the same in the north and south.


Can I use the ecar connect app instead of an ESB charge point access card?
Yes you can use the ecar connect app to start and stop a charging session. The app will also tell you how long you have been charging for.

Can I continue to use the existing version of the ecar connect app?
You will need to update the current ecar connect app to avail of new functionality.

Is the ecar connect app secure?
Yes the ecar connect app is safe and all of your payment details are secure and stored following GDPR regulations.

How much does the ecar connect app cost?
The ecar connect app is free to download from the Apple App store and Google Play store.

Why do I need to download the updated ecar connect app?
It is advised to update or download the ecar connect app for easy use of the public charging network. It provides the ability to swipe to start or stop a charge. It shows the real-time availability of the charge point network on an integrated interactive map, you can track your usage, view your charge history, and manage your account. 

Safety

I want to report a safety concern, what should I do?
If you have a safety concern, please contact our 24/7 helpline on 0345 601 8303.

What safety measures are in place on the public charging infrastructure?
All public charge points are designed with safety as the top priority. Each charge point contains individual devices for overcurrent and earth fault protection, as well as a secondary level of electrical protection for the charge post supply.

Most charge posts are also protected from impact by concrete-filled bollards and features a “tilt-switch” device, which disconnects the supply to the charge post in the case of a significant impact.

The charging system also incorporates inherent safety measures, with the electricity flow regulated by communication between the vehicle and the charger.

This system ensures that the electricity flow is interrupted when a cable is disconnected. A minor level of static charge may sometimes remain on the pins after disconnection.

To reduce wear and tear on the plug it is advisable to disconnect the EV charging lead from the charge point first, before disconnecting from the vehicle.

Similarly, when starting a charge the EV charging lead should be connected to the vehicle first and then to the charge point. This ensures that the vehicle’s control system will be immediately prepared to regulate the electricity flow upon insertion to the charger.

When charging an EV it is important to never leave a charging cable trailing dangerously on the pavement or roadway as its way be a potential trip hazard.

Can I disconnect my cable even though the vehicle is not fully charged?
Yes, you can disconnect your vehicle at any time.                     

Access Cards

What is an access card?
An access card is a credit card size card that allows you to start and stop a charge on the ecarNI and the ESB ecars charging network.  

Do I need an ecarNI access card to use the ecarNI charging network?
No you can also use the network via the ecar connect app when you sign up. Download for Apple and Android devices and sign up as a Member or a PAYG customer.

How do I get an ecarNI access card?
You can register for an access card via the website or via the ecar car connect app.

How do I activate my ecarNI access card?
When you receive your access card in the post you will need to activate your card by following the steps:

  1. Sign into your account or the ecar connect app from Google and Apple stores.

  2. Go to profile and select cards from the dropdown list, (on app select dropdown menu)

  3. Click activate card

  4. Then input your card number to complete the activation.

I have an old access card that I use on the public network, do I need a new card?
If the number on the front of your card has rubbed off and/or you cannot read the number, you will need a new access card to use the new fast DC chargers. You can register for a new card. You should retain your old card as a backup for use on the AC network.  

I have lost my access card; how do I get a new one?
You can register for a new access card for free on the website or you can also download the ecars connect app for Apple and Android.