Car Explainer

Want to learn more about the different engine and fuel types? Read our FAQ below to discover more information. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch and send us your question. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible to answer your query. 

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The Essentials

A significant portion of our customers now buy their cars using a Personal Contract Plan (PCP). With a PCP contract from Volkswagen Financial Services, the future value of the car is set and guaranteed meaning there is no fear or risk for the customer. You will know at the end of your contract (36 months) that the value of your car is safe. This applies for all cars financed through Volkswagen Financial Services (Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid, Electric etc.).

If you own a modern diesel car, you probably have a DPF fitted to it. DPF stands for Diesel Particulate Filter and this, as it sounds, is a filter that captures and stores exhaust particles to reduce emissions from diesel cars. These trapped particles need to be emptied or ‘burned off’ intermittently to regenerate the DPF and when this happens, the excess particles that is deposited in the filter are burned off. This is what reduces the exhaust emissions and it is why you don’t see black smoke coming from modern diesel engines.

The main cause of DPFs getting blocked is when drivers of diesel cars mainly take short journeys at low speeds. If you are a city-dweller and usually only take short journeys, then it might be wiser to choose an electric, petrol or hybrid car instead. Owners of diesel cars are advised that drivers regularly give their diesel vehicles a good 30 to 50 minutes run at motorway speeds to help clear the filter.

Most cars are two-wheel drive, so the power from the engine goes to two wheels (usually the front wheels) or in some brands, the rear wheels. However, there are also four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles and as the name suggests, power goes to all four wheels either part of the time or all of the time. Four-wheel drive such as Volkswagen’s 4Motion provides more grip and offers more assured road holding. Some high-performance vehicles such as the Golf R and T-Roc R come with 4Motion as standard as it offers a better way of making sure all the power goes to the road without wheelspin.

Horsepower is a measure of the engine’s power output. This differs slightly from brake horsepower which is the figure arrived at once the losses from friction have been taken into consideration. German brands tend to use Pferdestärke or PS which is the German word for horsepower, and this is also known as metric or DIN horsepower. One PS equals to 0.98 bhp, so 100 PS is the equivalent of 98.6 bhp.

You might have heard about how much “torque” a car has. Well what does that mean? Torque is rotational force or pulling power and a torque figure tells us the maximum amount of force an engine can deliver. This is different to horsepower (hp) which tells us how quickly that force can be delivered. Torque in terms of cars is measured in Newton Metres (Nm). Diesel engines generally produce more torque than power, while petrol engines are often the opposite. Electric cars produce all their torque instantly which means that they accelerate really quickly. Cars with more torque are better at towing, so for this reason cars like a Tiguan 2.0 TDI is very suitable for towing a boat or caravan.


NOx, or nitrogen oxides, include Nitric Oxide and Nitrogen Dioxide. They are usually produced from the reaction amongst nitrogen and oxygen during the combustion process in an internal combustion engine vehicle. NOx emissions in petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles have significantly reduced over the last few years due to stringent EU regulations.

The Irish Government recently introduced a NOx charge that is applied on a per-milligramme per-kilometre basis on cars registered from 1st January 2020 (new vehicle and imports). The scale starts at €5 per mg/km for a car's initial 60mg/km of NOx emissions levels that are recorded against the vehicle. With the average emissions of Nitrogen Oxide of approximately 43mg/km, it means that most cars will incur only a minimal increase in their list prices. (e.g. 45mg/km equates to a €225 NOx charge). However, older, higher emitting vehicles will incur a higher charge (e.g. a 5 year old diesel engine may emit 120mg/km thus resulting in a €1,600 surcharge)

Carbon dioxide or CO2 is a naturally occurring gas that is present in everyday conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere. All humans exhale carbon dioxide when they breathe, and plants through photosynthesis absorb it to grow. CO2 is a greenhouse gas as it is part of the Earth's atmosphere which keeps the world at a liveable temperature. CO2 is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, peat petroleum and natural gas.  Human activities, for example, such as the burning of fossil fuels, release extra C02 (and other greenhouses gases) into the atmosphere, increasing atmospheric C02 leading to problems such as climatic instability.

To help protect our environment, some diesel cars are now fitted with AdBlue emissions control equipment which cleans exhaust gases assisting the cars to comply with the new EU6 exhaust emissions regulations. AdBlue is a non-toxic, non-flammable; biodegradable urea and a water-based liquid additive that processes the gases in a car exhaust system to remove harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The AdBlue solution is stored in a tank positioned near the car’s conventional fuel tank, accessed through a cap usually found at the rear of the vehicle; its location will depend on the model. In most models, a dash message will inform you if the AdBlue reservoir is running low.

The European Union has developed a test, called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and it replaces an older test called the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) which has been around since the 1980s. Due to evolutions in technology and driving conditions, it became outdated. While the old NEDC test determined test values based on a theoretical driving profile, the WLTP cycle was developed using real-driving data, gathered from around the world. Legislators are implementing standardized test procedures for the type approval of new vehicles. The exhaust gas and CO2emissions of the vehicles will be measured, as well as fuel consumption. In electric vehicles, electricity consumption will be measured. The introduction of the second act of the WLTP came about in 2019. Essentially, the test cycle was intensified with new technical requirements. The fact that the WLTP is being implemented in stages is due to the complexity of the matter. The new regulations will also flesh out the existing process and thereby provide legal certainty.

The objective of the WLTP cycle is to lay down uniform exhaust emissions and fuel consumption test procedures for different types of powertrain (gasoline, diesel, natural gas and electric). In addition, the test cycle is to give a more realistic reflection of real-world driving behavior and not only to measure emissions values. Emissions and fuel consumption values are measured in the laboratory.

The test procedure is based on vehicle behavior data from all countries and regions participating in WLTP. A driving cycle with a duration of about 30 minutes was calculated on this basis. As regards key parameters such as acceleration behavior, speeds and standstill times, the procedure is to be representative of all the countries concerned. The WLTP consists of the four cycle phases "Low", "Medium", "High" and "Extra-High". A combined value is also to be stated. As a general principle, the WLTP cycle simulates a dynamic driving profile, including phases with acceleration, deceleration and standstill. In contrast to NEDC, there are only very few sections with a constant speed. The average speed during the WLTP test cycle is 47 km/h and the distance covered is about 23 kilometers.

Yes, fuel-efficient driving, or "eco-driving", can significantly reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

Shift into a higher gear early. Maintain a steady speed at highest possible gear. Anticipate traffic flow. If your car doesn't have a Stop/Start system, switch off the engine at short stops. Check and adjust the tyre pressure regularly. Make use of in-car fuel-saving devices such as on-board computers and dynamic navigators. Get rid of surplus weight and unused roof racks. Eco-driving training can lead to a fuel economy of up to 25%, with a significant long-term effect of 7% under normal driving conditions.

Resulting from the 2022 Budget, a €7.50 increase on the current rate of Carbon Tax applied per tonne of carbon emitted — which came into force from midnight 12/10/21— will raise the price of a litre of diesel and petrol by 2.5c and 2.1c respectively.

Euro 6 emissions standards set the maximum limits for certain gases and particulate matter a car is allowed to emit - chief amongst these are nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons. Petrol and diesel cars are subject to slightly different limits. They replaced the previous set of limits - known as Euro 5, particularly tightening the restrictions on diesel engines. For diesel to be Euro 6 compliant it cannot emit more than 80mg/km of NOx (nitrogen oxides) gases, while a petrol car can emit no more than 60mg/km.

Yes, due to improvements in diesel and petrol technology, emissions have dropped over the years. The downward trend in average CO2 emissions for new cars sold has been firmly established since 2008. It is expected to continue as more people switch to electric vehicles and cleaner petrol and diesel options.

Electricity can be generated by fossil fuels but also by environmentally friendly options such as wind or water. In Ireland, lots of progress has been made to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation. ESB’s head of corporate and regulatory affairs Peter O’Shea states that “By the end of 2020, almost 40 per cent of Ireland’s electricity will come from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and solar power. That is from almost a standing start at the turn of the millennium.”

If you choose to charge through Elli (Volkswagen’s electricity subsidiary), you receive electricity from 100% renewable energies for your home and electric vehicle. Discover more about Elli at

Like all vehicles, emissions are created during the production of an electric vehicle. Each manufacturer will have a different approach to the production of their cars.

At Volkswagen, to reduce the emissions sustainably, we follow this principle: Avoid first, then cut and finally compensate unavoidable emissions – with projects to protect the climate.

Our holistic approach begins with measures to increase energy efficiency and the use of green power in our plant in Zwickau. Additionally, our suppliers are obliged to use green control in the production of battery cells. The unavoidable amount of emissions during the production phase will be reduced step by step, and until then, it will be compensated through certified climate protection projects. This will help us to reach our goal to deliver our ID. electric vehicles with a 100 per cent CO2-neutral footprint.

You can find out more about the actions Volkswagen is taking to becoming a company with a carbon neutral balance by 2050 by visiting our Way to Zero page

Volkswagen are committed to transitioning from internal combustion engines to electric alternatives through the launch of the ID. family of vehicles. However, Volkswagen understand that there will still be a requirement for internal combustion engines during this period. Volkswagen will launch a new combustion-engine platform for European petrol and diesel models in 2026 to fulfil demand. In addition to all-electric models, Volkswagen will continue to offer petrol and diesel engines along with hybrid vehicles in the coming years in order to cater to the full range of customer requirements.

An increase on the rates of VRT payable on the purchase of new vehicles and imports of used vehicles will apply to vehicles with higher emissions. There will be a 1% increase for vehicles that fall between bands 9 -12, a 2% increase for bands 13-15 and a 4% increase for bands 16-20. The Vehicle Registration Tax relief on electric vehicles is to be extended too.

Electric Cars

For privately-owned BEV cars, the following are available:

  • SEAI Grant - Up to €5,000 depending on the list price of the vehicle
  • VRT Relief - VRT is paid whenever a car is registered for the first time in Ireland. Electric Vehicles receive VRT relief separately to SEAI grant support. The VRT relief for Battery Electric vehicles is tapered by 50% for every €1 for vehicles with an Open Market Selling Price* of over €40,000, so that no amount of relief is available for BEVs with an OMSP value of over €50,000.
  • Low Motor Tax - At present motor tax for a BEV is €120 per annum and slightly higher for a PHEV (for example, for Golf e-Hybrid the motor tax is €140). In 2021, the emissions-based tax system for new cars tested under WLTP will continue to favour electric cars and hybrid cars.
  • Reduction in tolls - Up to €500 a year annual reduction in tolling costs on selected Irish toll roads.
  • Claim up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle home charger unit from the SEAI.

    In addition, for cars purchased for commercial use, the following is available:
  • 0% BIK - Battery electric vehicles used as company cars are fully exempt from Benefit in Kind tax. To see how much you could save on BIK by switching to electric, use our online BIK calculator
  • ACA Savings - Companies, sole traders and farmers can avail of further tax savings on electric cars through the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) scheme. It was announced in Budget 2021 that this would be extended to 2023.

*The Open Market Selling Price is the percentage of the recommended retail price, which includes all taxes.

The €5,000 relief for battery electric vehicles has been extended to the end of 2023. The Benefit in Kind (BIK) exemption for electric vehicles will be extended out to 2025 with a tapering effect on the vehicle value which will take effect from 2023. The Vehicle Registration Tax relief on electric vehicles is to be extended too. 

A €7.50 increase on the current rate of Carbon Tax applied per tonne of carbon emitted will raise the price of a litre of diesel and petrol by 2.5c and 2.1c respectively, providing a greater incentive to switch to electric. 

No, 0% BIK (benefit in kind) tax applies to fully electric cars only. 

The most popular place to charge electric cars is at home. A government grant of up to €600 is available toward the purchase and installation of the wallbox. The power is taken from your domestic supply and billed as usual via your electricity provider. Most people opt to charge their car overnight. Charging at work is often an increasingly popular trend. There is also a growing network of public charging points, with many people opting to run errands while their car charges. For example, ESB owns and maintains approximately 1,100 public charging points.

They can be located using the online Charge Point Map or from the ecar connect app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. There is also a number of fast-charging stations provided by IONITY.

A number of charging points are also available through the EasyGo network.

If you would like to see a map of all public charging points from all providers in Ireland, you can use the Zap-Map app, which contains all charging providers including ESB, IONITY and EasyGo.

Charging times vary depending on the model of car and the power source used. The majority of people will charge using a Wallbox. It is, however, possible to charge via a domestic socket. For fast charging, a rapid charger can be used; however, at present, there are a limited amount of rapid charging stations in Ireland, and it is more expensive than standard charging.

Below is a table of charging times for the Volkswagen e-Golf:

Domestic Socket17 Hours
Wallbox5hrs 15mins (7.4kW, 0-100%)
Rapid Charge Time36 mins (50kW, 10-80%)

If you charge your electric car at home using a socket or Wallbox, you will pay for the battery charge on your next electricity bill.

For public charging through the ESB public network, there are two price plans available to you, PAYG or Membership. The Membership price plan was developed for heavier users who charge their car five times plus per month on the ESB public charging network. To find out more about our price plans, please visit the pricing page. With the ESB public charging network, you can pay with major debit or credit cards from Visa or Mastercard. Payment can be made directly at any fast charge point using the ecar connect app, or on the website.

Most electric car drivers charge their vehicles at home. Depending on the night- or day-time rates, it can costs approximately €1.45 - €2.71 to charge a Volkswagen e-Golf enough to travel 100km.

To cover the same distance in a Golf TSI Petrol DSG would cost €8.20 and €6.95 for a Golf TDI Diesel DSG.

An ESB charge point access card is a credit card-sized card that allows you to start and stop a charge on the ESB public charging network.

For access to the IONITY network, numerous mobility service providers (MSP) have integrated the IONITY High-Power-Charging Network into their customer offers. MSP customers using the IONITY charging stations benefit from simple and contactless payment via customer card, RFID-token or smartphone app. IONITY do not issue charging cards.

It means that the car doesn’t produce any emissions from the driving cycle. Volkswagen with the ID.3 will produce a car that does not produce any tailpipe emissions, however with this car Volkswagen is aiming to go one step further and offer the car with zero emissions including manufacturer by initially offsetting any CO2 produced during the car’s production phase.

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