Electric vehicle grant scheme for taxis hits budget limit

Taxi drivers told there is no clarity on what funding will be available next year

Grant aid of €20,000 has been available to taxi drivers scrapping older cars for a new fully electric model. If it is wheelchair accessible, the grant rises to €25,000. Photograph: iStock

Grant aid of €20,000 has been available to taxi drivers scrapping older cars for a new fully electric model. If it is wheelchair accessible, the grant rises to €25,000. Photograph: iStock

 

Taxi drivers looking to switch to cleaner electric vehicles have been told there is no exchequer money left to fund a grant scheme designed to incentivise such switches even as the Government looks to accelerate its green agenda.

Taxi drivers have been a particular target for incentives, given that they clock up significant mileage, mostly in urban settings with diesel vehicles.

Earlier this year, the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, announced a dramatic expansion of the electric scheme for small public-service vehicles (eSPSV), with €15 million made available. The budget for grants had previously been just €1 million.

“An efficient and low-emitting public transport system is a key priority for my department,” he said at the time. “This scheme will play a critical role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions while also normalising the use of electric vehicles in Ireland.”

Grant aid of €20,000 has been available to taxi drivers scrapping older cars for a new fully electric model. If it is wheelchair accessible, the grant rises to €25,000.

But taxi drivers have now been told there is no more money in the budget for this year and there is no clarity on what will be available next year.

The uncertainty comes just as the Minister re-emphasised the Government’s commitment to addressing vehicle emissions as he announced the closure of the hybrid vehicles grant scheme, with support to be focused purely on fully electric vehicles from next year.

There are 18,723 registered taxis and hackneys in the State, according to the most recent National Transport Authority data, with more than half of them based in Dublin. The €15 million eSPSV budget for this year would have covered the cost of 750 taxi drivers moving over to fully electric vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said the “greening” of the taxi fleet was seen as an important initiative in Government, “as these are high-mileage vehicles mainly based in towns and cities, and moving these to EVs will reduce not just CO2 but harmful air emissions”.

“The schemes to encourage taxis and hackneys to move towards electric vehicles have been very successful so far in 2021, with the funds fully committed by end September,” she said.

“The department is now reviewing them in detail, with a view to launching further schemes for 2022, details of which will be announced by the end of the year.”