Motor industry to argue for retention of EV incentives

Supply of EVs could be boosted if State were to replace fleet every two years – lobby group

The Government aims to have almost a million EVs on Irish roads by 2030 as part of the Climate Action Plan. Photograph: iStock

The Government aims to have almost a million EVs on Irish roads by 2030 as part of the Climate Action Plan. Photograph: iStock

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Incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) will need to be kept if the Government is to get close to its climate action targets, politicians will be told on Tuesday.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) will also tell the Committee on the Environment that the the supply of EVs for the used-car market could be boosted if the State were to replace its planned new fleets of electric cars every two years.

Government aims to have almost a million EVs on Irish roads by 2030 as part of the Climate Action Plan.

It has promised a “generous regime” of tax incentives including “substantial vehicle registration tax (VRT) relief and benefit-in-kind (BIK) exemptions”.

It has also pledged to mandate the purchase of zero-emission electric vehicles for State fleets where available and operationally feasible by end of 2022. There is also to be a new scheme for the rollout of 200 on-street public charging points per year.

SIMI is due to be represented at the committee on Tuesday by its director general, Brian Cooke, while TDs and Senators will also hear from representatives of the ESB’s e-cars unit.

Mr Cooke’s opening statement says the motor industry “can, and will deliver EVs in large numbers” while cautioning that this is “not just in the hands of the industry”.

He will say it “needs the State’s continued assistance to help build the conditions that will allow motorists confidently move to an EV at the earliest possible stage”.

Mr Cooke will argue that “we need the State to continue its investment in supporting electric vehicles.”

While accepting that supports “can’t last for ever” and the State has been “generous to date”, Mr Cooke will tell committee that there has been a “a gradual erosion in recent years of these supports”.

His statement says it is “too early in the EV project to start this withdrawal” and it is “vital that the SEAI [Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland] grant, VRT relief and other supports currently available are maintained out to 2025, at which time they can be reviewed.”

His statement adds that Ireland is competing with other EU countries for the supply of new EVs and to ensure it can optimise its share, “incentives must remain”.

Second-hand market

A focus on the business fleet and company car sector would boost used EV availability Mr Cooke says as such cars are typically released to the market when they are two to four years old.

“In addition, with the Government commitment to electrifying its own fleets, a requirement that these EVs be traded every two years could also increase supply to the used car market.”

And he suggests another immediate action that would help would be the extension of the home-charging grant to second-hand EV buyers.

Mr Cooke will say that the current supply of used EVs is not adequate and that Brexit and tax changes on UK imports have affected the used-car market here.

Representatives of the ESB will tell the committee that the demand for EVs has increased dramatically in recent years and “the issue of range anxiety has somewhat been addressed by the latest generation of EVs that have significantly increased ranges”.

They will tell the committee that the number of charging sessions on its system has tripled since the beginning of 2021, reaching about 70,000 sessions per month.

The committee will hear how the ESB qualified for €10 million in funding from the Climate Action Fund and how it will match this with a further €10 million.

An update will be provided on its investment programme and how the ESB will expand and enhance the public charging network across Ireland to help meet the expected growth of EVs in the coming years.