The transition to alternatively fuelled vehicles is a necessary step to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. The Climate Action Plan has set out measures to encourage a transition away from the use of petrol and diesel, particularly towards electrification in the light-duty (passenger car and van) fleets. In addition, Government will also play an important leadership role in promoting and normalising alternatives by investing in low-emissions technology in its bus fleet.
The transition is, however, not expected to be uniform across all vehicle sectors. The development of electrified fleet is not yet as advanced in the coach sector as it is for passenger cars, vans and low-floor buses. Thus, in the short to medium term, other alternative fuels which are already commercially available - such as compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) or biofuels - may have a role to play in the heavy-duty sectors where electrification is not yet commercially viable.
Generally, as new fuels and technologies advance, production levels increase and more vehicle models become available and cheaper in the coming years, so these new technologies are expected to reach total cost of ownership parity as we move towards 2030, making the switch easier and cost-effective for both business and private consumers. Also, developments in the cost of diesel over time, amongst other factors, may position ultra-low emission and zero-emission fuels as an increasingly attractive and viable investment for Irish businesses.
I expect that the anticipated improvements in alternatively-fuelled vehicle technology, reductions in purchase prices, increased driving range and model availability, coupled with a strong Government commitment to invest in the recharging network, will have a positive impact in uptake and consequently in driving further market development.
Policy about the supports and measures to underpin the transition will be kept under constant consideration and 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, and to other ultra-low emission alternatives, as efficiently as possible.