Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (580)

Jack Chambers

Question:

580. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the scheme for reduced toll charges for electric vehicles; the number of cars in the scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the need for participants to open an account which requires lodging a fee and keeping the amount in the account which is acting as a deterrent to motorists signing up to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52602/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive (EVTI) Scheme was launched in July 2018 following a recommendation from the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce; the Scheme forms part of a wider suite of incentives aimed at supporting the national transition towards lower emitting vehicles, especially electric vehicles in the national car/van fleet. The Scheme was introduced to encourage private and commercial car/van users who regularly travel tolled roads to consider switching to an electric alternative. It was estimated that there were approximately 400,000 heavy toll users in Ireland and so a reduced tolling incentive does act as a meaningful inducement for a large number of vehicle owners.

Under the EVTI Scheme, which is administered by Transport Infrastructure Ireland on behalf of my Department, full battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles qualify for a 50% and 25% toll reduction respectively, up to a maximum annual threshold of €500 for private vehicles and €1,000 for commercial vehicles. Greater off-peak reductions also apply to the M50 toll.

As of the end of November 2019, 8,476 electric vehicles have registered under the EVTI Scheme; this represents 56% of the total number of electric vehicles under taxation in Ireland. The uptake rate is considered high in light of the fact that many of the toll roads in Ireland are located in the South and East of the country while electric vehicle ownership has a wider geographic distribution. To date, registered vehicles have made over 615,000 discounted tolled journeys.

I was delighted to announce an expansion to the EVTI Scheme for 2020. From January, the maximum annual threshold for small public service vehicles (taxis, hackneys and limousines) will be extended to €1,000 in line with other commercial vehicles. Additionally, a new reducing tolling incentive regime will be introduced for heavy duty vehicles exceeding 3,500kg, including buses and trucks, fuelled by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, hydrogen or electricity. Heavy duty vehicles will be eligible for a toll refund of up to 50% to a maximum cap of €1,000 per calendar year.

In relation to the Deputy’s specific query regarding account registration requirements, it is my understanding that vehicles participating in the Scheme must use a Toll Tag and vehicle eligibility must be approved by one of four Toll Service Providers. A monthly administration fee, up to a maximum of €1.25 per month, is applied to all toll tag accounts; however, I am given to understand that there is no mandatory minimum account balance required by any of the Toll Service Providers to avail of the reduced EVTI toll charges. Nevertheless, due to the monthly account administration fee individual electric vehicle owners should determine, based on toll usage, the benefits of participating in the Scheme.  The primary focus of the EVTI Scheme is to encourage heavy toll users to transition away from fossil fuels; such users are generally already toll tag/account holders.