Driving cars accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low and zero emission cars is one of the necessary changes if Ireland is to substantially reduce its transport emissions. Accordingly, electric vehicles (EVs) are a prominent mitigation technology in the whole-of Government Climate Action Plan, which sets targets of 180,000 EVs on our roads by 2025, and 936,000 EVs by 2030. Clearly these targets are very challenging, and they are indicative of the scale of transformation that is needed across all sectors if Ireland is to reduce national emissions and reach its legally binding emission ceiling in future years.
It is widely expected that, over the coming years the combination of :
- improvements in technology,
- reductions in vehicle purchase prices,
- increasing driving ranges and model availabilities,
- coupled with Government incentives and new investment in the recharging network,
will maintain the current positive policy environment under which we have seen EV sales rise steeply over the past year, albeit from a low base.
In addition, car manufacturers will be stepping up production of EVs in the coming years due to an EU Regulation that sets production benchmarks for new cars and new vans being zero-emission. This should mean that more vehicles will be available for Irish consumers to purchase. Accordingly, I am confident that we can make real progress towards the target by 2030.
To date, the Government, supported by the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce, has worked to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices. As the Deputy will be aware, 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 of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. Support from the Minister for Finance has also been fundamental, with EVs now benefiting from favourable motor tax, vehicle registration tax (VRT) and benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates. In my role, I am directly responsible for two initiatives supporting EV uptake rates: the Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive Scheme and the Electric Taxi Grant Scheme.
This concerted work across several Departments must continue if we are to accelerate the current trajectory of EV sales. Action 79 of the Climate Action Plan commits my Department to develop a Roadmap on the optimum mix of regulatory, taxation and subsidy policies to drive significant ramp-up in passenger EVs and electric van sales from very early in the next decade; I will convene the relevant Departments before year-end to pursue this aim.
Collectively, I believe that these actions, alongside a supportive environment, will ensure that Ireland is well positioned to make the transition to electrification as efficiently as possible and progress the delivery of our collective ambition for nearly one million EVs by 2030.