What's the news?
Huge news this: car manufacturing is coming back to Ireland after a near 40-year hiatus. Electrifi, part of the Crowley Carbon group, is investing €50 million over three years to develop a range of seriously high-performance electric cars. What's more, its base is the Powerscourt Estate in Co. Wicklow, where it hopes to have a factory up and running by the end of the year.
Electrifi is the brain-child of Norman Crowley, originally a West Cork man (just over the road from the ancestral home of Henry Ford himself), with several highly successful businesses already under his belt and the recent recipient of 2019 Green Leader Award for his contribution to sustainability in Ireland.
Crowley said: "The global market opportunity in electric vehicles is predicted to top over $500 billion between now and 2025. This potential for transformative change creates huge opportunities for both new and existing players in the automotive sector. I believe a revived car manufacturing industry in Ireland could easily employ more than 30,000 people and has the potential to generate annual revenues of over €10 billion for the Irish economy.
"Who would have envisaged 30 years ago that our technology sector would employ almost 300,000 people in Ireland, and be seen as a global centre of excellence?" he added.
In terms of plans for new EVs, Electrifi has already 'acquired a strategic stake' in Wales-based Electric Classic Cars, helping it get off the ground quickly, and it has an 18-month backlog of orders from owners of classic cars that want to convert them to full electrification. But that is only the starting point. The next step will be a range of high-end electric sports cars, styled after automotive icons, but built from the ground up using the expertise of Prodrive in the bespoke chassis, with battery and motor technology from Tesla. These cars will cost in the region of €750,000 apiece, so Electrifi expects to export the finished cars to the UK, Middle East and the USA in the main, though it also plans to open a showroom in Wicklow and allow visitors to see the cars in production. In time, it is hoped that the manufacture of electric cars costing closer to €30,000 will be feasible.
Minister Simon Harris, who announced the investment and unveiled an electrified Fiat 500 today in Powerscourt, said: "I am delighted to welcome this €50 million investment in Co Wicklow's Crowley Carbon. As local TD and Government Minister, I am really delighted to see such sustainable investment going into our County. I want to congratulate Norman and all at Crowley Carbon and Electrifi for another fantastic enterprise and wish them every success."
Pictured is a Ferrari 308 GTS converted by Electrifi, with CEO Norman Crowley.