Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2509)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin


2509. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce further electric vehicle subsidies in order to meet requirements set out in the Climate Action Plan 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34584/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The whole-of-Government Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The national car fleet accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emission vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. Accordingly, EVs are a prominent mitigation technology in the new Plan, with a target of 180,000 EVs on our roads by 2025 and 936,000 EVs by 2030. While these are very challenging targets, the rate of uptake of EVs has grown significantly in the past year (albeit from a small base) with over 11,700 EVs on Irish roads by the end of June 2019, which is more than double the number at the end of June 2018.

It is expected that improvements in battery and recharging technologies will continue to advance and more vehicle models will become available and cheaper in the coming years making the switch to EVs easier for consumers. Concerted efforts across several Departments will be essential to encourage and support continuation of the current trajectory of EV sales. I will continue to work closely with Ministers Bruton and Donohoe and their respective Departments to map out the new policy pathway that will be necessary to ensure that Ireland is well positioned to make the transition to electrification as efficiently as possible.

Acknowledging it is the Government’s job to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices, an interdepartmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce, co-chaired by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, was established to consider the range of measures and options available to Government to accelerate the EV take-up. Preliminary recommendations from the Taskforce were considered ahead of Budgets 2018 and 2019 and a suite of continued and new EV supports were subsequently announced. Several of the principal supports, such as the EV Purchase Grant Scheme, the Domestic Charger Grant and the roll out of an extensive recharging network, fall under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. Support from the Department of Finance has also been fundamental in establishing the current positive policy environment under which we have already seen EV sales rise steeply over the past year.

I am directly responsible for two initiatives supporting EV uptake rates: the Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive (EVTI) Scheme and the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) Grant Scheme. The EVTI was designed to encourage private car commuters who regularly use tolled roads to consider switching to an EV. It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 heavy toll users in Ireland so reduced tolls act as a meaningful incentive for a large number of vehicle owners. I have committed to continuing this incentive until 2022 or until a threshold of 50,000 registrations has been reached. The eSPSV Grant Scheme promotes the use of EVs in taxis/hackneys/limousines. Recognising the important role that the SPSV sector can play in demonstrating EV technology to a wider audience I have agreed, under the Climate Action Plan, later this year to improve the value of the eSPSV grant to those transitioning to wheelchair accessible electric SPSVs to make EVs available to a greater number of our citizens.

In addition, a number of new EV actions have been outlined in the Climate Action Plan relating to improving the level of recharging infrastructure and developing a roadmap on the optimum mix of regulatory, taxation and subsidy policies to drive significant ramp-up in EVs sales. These actions will be pursued in successive budgets. Collectively, I believe that the actions taken to date alongside the actions outlined in the Plan will see us progress towards our challenging EV targets.