The Irish EV Owners Association was formed in March 2015 and is the first and only association of this kind in Ireland. At present, there are 1,100 pure electric cars in Ireland, that is, 1,100 have been introduced in the five-year period since 2011. In the same five-year period, Norway and the Netherlands have introduced 66,000 and 60,000, respectively. To us, the reason this is the case is very simple, that is, the Governments of these countries have given huge incentives to the electric car buyer. There are incentives in Ireland, which include a €5,000 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, grant. Moreover, the cars are exempt from VRT, there is a free ESB ecar home charger and there is free use of the ESB charging network. Ireland's target, under the renewable energy supply directive, is to ensure that 10% of its transport energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. This would mean 200,000 electric vehicles and to reach the target, we believe more incentives from the Government are needed.
The Irish EV Owners Association proposes to the joint committee a plan of incentives to have in place for five years only, starting in 2016. First, a national blanket policy should be introduced in cities and towns to allow electric vehicles free access to bus lanes, to have no charges on toll roads and free parking while charging at the chargers in each county, as well as at the Luas and Iarnród Éireann stations. To implement this, we recommend a statutory instrument. Second, all county councils should be instructed to have painted the parking spaces at the chargers. A statutory instrument already is in place, No. 330 of 2014, and while some local authorities have done this, for example, Wexford, Limerick, Wicklow and Tipperary, some are quite resistant. ESB ecars has installed an impressive infrastructure of chargers in towns and cities but to be effective, the parking spaces at the chargers must be painted. Third, all county councils should be instructed to implement SI 325 of 2014 to the effect that the charging space is for electric vehicles only. An inability to charge one's vehicle because a non-electric car is blocking the charger makes driving an electric vehicle unviable and totally frustrating. It can be a huge problem in rural towns where there is only one charger in the town.
Fourth, an SEAI grant of €1,000 should be introduced for points of interest, which have been listed in the submission, towards the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle charger on their premises. Fifth, an SEAI grant of €1,000 should be introduced for employers to install a charger for motorists to charge their vehicles at work. Sixth, a charger provider should be given €2 million each year for five years to expand the fast charge point infrastructure. The network in Ireland already is very good thanks to ESB ecars and a European Union grant under the TEN-T programme. We believe some routes and areas still are poorly catered for and for example, the Wild Atlantic Way needs a fast charge point every 120 km along the route. Seventh, the A0 tax band should be reduced to being free. Our neighbours in Northern Ireland automatically have free road tax when they purchase an electric car and zero emissions should lead to zero tax. Eighth, an SEAI grant of €1,200 should be introduced towards the purchase and installation of a solar photovoltaic, pv system in one's house, which then would encourage those people to buy an electric car. Ninth, there should be a zero rate for benefit-in-kind tax applicable to companies and employees who drive electric vehicles. Tenth, the building regulations should be amended for new homes to facilitate the installation of a 7 kW charge point in the initial build. Eleventh, there should be an obligation for any new factories or commercial buildings with internal or external car parks to include dedicated charging spaces proportionately, say, two per 100 spaces. Twelfth, as ESB ecars will start charging for the use of infrastructure and electricity in January 2016, can members, in partnership with the ESB, not subsidise this cost for a period of five years? Thirteenth, the €5,000 SEAI grant should be continued for the next five years and fourteenth, public education and promotion and Government advertising are needed in this area.
The benefits of electric cars are twofold for Ireland, both economic and environmental. If Ireland is to reach its mandated emissions targets for CO2 electric cars must play a significant part. Let us reach our targets as it can be done by incentives; is féidir linn. Finally, EV car sales in Cork have increased by 205% in 2015 to date over the 2014 rate because of incentives given. The Drive4Zero programme, spearheaded by the Minister, Deputy Coveney, gave incentives that included free parking while charging, free tolls at Fermoy, incentives to companies, 0% finance at dealers, chargers installed in multi-storey car parks etc. Consequently, incentives work.