Call for petrol and diesel cars to be ‘part of the solution’ to reduce emissions

Ireland unable to meet emissions targets with electric vehicles alone, says industry expert

The car industry would not be able to produce enough electric vehicles to enable Ireland to reach its emissions targets by 2030, says Audi Cork general manager Liam Murphy.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The car industry would not be able to produce enough electric vehicles to enable Ireland to reach its emissions targets by 2030, says Audi Cork general manager Liam Murphy. Photograph: Alan Betson

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Petrol and diesel cars are “part of the solution” to reduce emissions and the Government should encourage people to buy newer more environmentally friendly models and not just electric vehicles (EVs), an industry figure has said.

The car industry would not be able to produce enough electric vehicles to enable Ireland to reach its emissions targets by 2030, said Audi Cork general manager Liam Murphy. The Government’s Climate Action Plain aims to have almost one million electric vehicles on the roads by 2030.

“Pushing just EVs is not the way to go about it. The modern petrol and diesel car is part of the solution, not part of the problem, and petrol and diesel models are going to be with us up until 2030 when EVs become more available and the charging infrastructure is better,” he said.

Mr Murphy said the Government should cut VRT on new petrol and diesel cars to encourage people to upgrade to more environmentally friendly newer models.

While the move towards EVs was very welcome from an environmental perspective, Mr Murphy did not believe the car industry internationally would have the capacity to meet the demand for EVs in the immediate future.

“Factories don’t have the capacity at the moment to supply the amount of EVs that the Government are calling for in the Climate Action Plan so the best way for Ireland to hit our emissions target is for people to drive newer internal combustion engine cars,” he said.

“The newest diesel engines emit a lot less emissions than even a diesel engine from five years ago. There’s no comparison between a 2016 diesel car and a 2021 one so if you can upgrade your car to a new diesel or petrol car, you are going to cut down on your emissions and help the environment.”

VRT reductions

The high level of VRT on new patrol and diesel cars was affecting people’s ability to update their cars more frequently. A reduction in VRT could help modernise the national fleet in Ireland where the average car was eight years old, he said.

Mr Murphy said Audi was committed to making improved diesel cars up until 2030 but he acknowledged that more people were becoming concerned about the environmental impact of their driving and they had seen a significant increase in interest in Audi’s EV range.

“We’ve sold quite a lot already but production is limited at the moment because there isn’t sufficient capacity in the plants to meet the demand internationally but there’s a lot of interest from people asking about their range and about the charging infrastructure,” he said.

Ken Grandon, dealer principal at Grandon Motors in Cork which sells Toyota, similarly reported a huge upsurge of interest in EVs and hybrids which now accounted for about 90 per cent of the company’s sales as more and more people were coming to see hybrids as the solution to their driving needs.

“Toyota’s EV range doesn’t come out until next year when the BZ4X comes on the market but there is a myth out there that EVs and hybrids are only for city and town driving but that’s wrong,” he said.

Mr Grandon said that for city driving, Toyota found the hybrid driver was on the battery for 75-80 per cent of the time. Even when driving on the motorway, the hybrid driver was on the battery on average 50 per cent of the time with the battery recharging when the driver switched to the petrol engine, he said.