Electric vehicles on Irish roads to fall very short of Government climate goal, C&AG warns

Spending watchdog reports Department of Transport projection for electric vehicles is less than half of 2030 target based on recent growth figures

The number of electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030 will fall well short of the Government’s climate action target of 945,000, according to projections by the Department of Transport.

The department estimates that by 2030 there will be 416,000 electric vehicles – just 44 per cent of the legally binding target under the Government’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The figures are contained in the latest report of the State’s spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Motor tax

Examining the figures on motor tax receipts, the comptroller found that the department’s projection for electric vehicles would rise from about 21,000 in 2021 to about 416,000 based on the past five years’ growth in the number of electric vehicles on the roads.

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The department projected, based on current trends in vehicle ownership and no change in motor tax policy, that motor tax income from private vehicles will stop falling in 2023 and increase to €824 million, or just over 2017 levels by 2030.

If the Government’s target of 945,000 electric vehicles by 2030 is met, the department estimates that this would lead to a reduction in the projected motor tax take for 2030 of about €58 million.

The comptroller found that although the number of vehicles taxed had increased by almost half a million between 2012 and 2021 motor tax income had declined significantly, from almost €1.2 billion in 2014 to €907 million in 2021.

The significant decline in motor tax is due to the number of vehicles being replaced by greener vehicles with lower carbon dioxide emissions, which are taxed at lower rates.

“As vehicles currently in the fleet are replaced by electric models, this drop in the average tax paid is likely to continue,” the comptroller said.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent