The transition to alternatively fuelled vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. While there are no certainties in predicting future technologies, the full electrification of the national car fleet represents a feasible option. Indications from car manufacturers and energy market analysts suggest that mass market adoption of EVs is probable.
Accordingly, Ireland's National Policy Framework on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure for Transport in Ireland: 2017-2030 set an ambitious target that from 2030, all new cars and vans sold in Ireland will be zero emission capable. In addition, Ireland has a national target of 20,000 EVs on Irish roads by 2020 and an ambitious longer term target of 500,000 by 2030.
In order to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies, especially the uptake of EVs, my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment jointly convened an interdepartmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce. The Taskforce includes representatives from across the public sector and has consulted widely with industry, stakeholders and representative groups. Phase one of their Work Programme focused exclusively on EVs and their recommendations were considered ahead of Budgets 2018 and 2019. A suite of continued and new EV supports has subsequently been established (see below) and a Progress Report has been published on my website (available at this link.)
There has been a substantial recent increase in EV sales; in 2018, a total of 1,972 new EVs were registered, bringing the total number on Irish roads to almost 7,650 by the end of December. 2019 is seeing a continued rise in EV numbers - in the first month of the year 1,112 EVs were registered compared to 213 in January 2018. By the end of February, there were almost 9,500 EVs under taxation.
Suite of EV supports currently available:
Purchase Grant Scheme - A grant of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new BEV or PHEV
VRT Relief - VRT Relief of up to €5,000 for BEVs (until end 2021), up to €2,500 for PHEVs (until end 2019) and up to €1,500 for conventional hybrids
Domestic Charger Grant - A grant of up to €600 towards the installation cost of a domestic charge point for new and second-hand BEVs or PHEVs
Low Motor Tax - BEVs qualify for the lowest tax band of motor tax at €120 per annum, while a PHEV is typically taxed at circa €170 per annum
Toll Incentive Scheme - As of July 2018, BEVs and PHEVs qualify for 50% and 25% toll reductions respectively up to a maximum €500 annual threshold for private vehicles and €1,000 for commercial vehicles
Lower fuel and maintenance costs - Studies show that you can save circa 70% annually on fuel costs in comparison with a diesel alternative
Comprehensive public and on-street charging network - ESB e-Cars rolled out and are further investing to enhance a network of EV charging points throughout Ireland, including almost 80 fast chargers. This network is complimented by charge points provided at locations such as hotels, shopping centres, visitor attractions, places of employment and private car parks
0% Benefit in Kind (BIK) Rate - BEVs qualify for a 0% Benefit in Kind rate up to €50,000 without mileage conditions
Accelerated Capital Allowance - BEVs/PHEVs and their associated recharging infrastructure qualify under the ACA scheme. This scheme enables businesses to identify and buy the most energy efficient equipment including electric charging infrastructure and write down the cost of such equipment in the year of purchase rather than over the traditional 8 years
eSPSV Grant Scheme - A grant of up to €7,000 or €3,500 towards the purchase of a BEV or PHEV respectively for vehicles in the taxi/hackney/limousine sector
Public Engagement Programme - A National Awareness Campaign was launched in April 2018 as part of a wider public engagement programme which aims to increase awareness and familiarity with the technology of EVs
Test Driving an Electric Vehicle - An online interactive map shows the availability of dealers throughout the country and enables a test drive to be booked online