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Driving to a more sustainable future

Company says it will have 100% zero emissions by 2030

Fiona Brady, head of operations & public affairs at Free Now Ireland. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Fiona Brady, head of operations & public affairs at Free Now Ireland. Photograph: Conor McCabe

 

Earlier this year, Free Now launched a €6 million electric vehicle (EV) home charging fund for taxi drivers to help them purchase home chargers and make the switch to EVs with targets of reaching a 50 per cent fully electric fleet by 2025, and 100 per cent zero emissions by 2030. In addition, they’ve committed to a further €100 million of resources in the coming five years supporting offsetting all emissions to become carbon neutral.

Customers driving change

A recent survey showed that 87 per cent of the company’s passengers are worried about climate change and 97 per cent “think that it is up to businesses to make it easier for consumers to adopt greener habits through their services”. Its eco fleet has grown to almost 30 per cent and there is an average of 10-20 battery electric vehicles coming online every week.

Fiona Brady, head of operations & public affairs at Free Now Ireland, explains why the company is taking steps to combat climate change. “We have always looked for ways to address this global challenge and more recently we have seen a growing opportunity and appetite for change.”

She explains how “the increased availability of new vehicle types, increased model availability, and the overall performance and range of EVs today has helped to accelerate change”.

Potential roadblocks

Switching to EVs has typically been a costly endeavour so they have created a fund to support recently launched public grants to mitigate that cost. “Affordability has been a barrier for many private car purchasers, but with the help of the (electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) grant, SEAI [Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland] home charger grant and the Free Now home charger grant match, coupled with accessible finance, savings in fuel and maintenance, the change makes perfect commercial sense for taxi drivers.”

However, if any taxi drivers are circumspect of making the shift, Brady says,

the company supports drivers in making an informed decision on investing in electric vehicles. “We have a dedicated, in-house EV expert switch team who work closely with drivers providing them with the important information and resources – ranging from supports available, accessing finance and vehicle choice to various charging options.”

Customers driving change

Customer demand for the eco fleet has tripled in Dublin since its launch in September 2020, and the “recent launch of our eco booking option in Cork, Galway, and Limerick has already shown demand for electric and plug-in hybrids grow by 34 per cent”, says Brady.

Accelerating into the future

Brady explains that Ireland has set an ambitious target to have one million electric vehicles on the roads by 2030. She says: “If we are to achieve this goal it is vital every sector of the economy is supporting the sustainable move in that direction.

“Our transport infrastructure and the transport choices we make play a key role in helping us achieve our carbon dioxide reduction targets as a nation. Reducing our long-standing reliance on private car ownership and increasing our use of other more sustainable transport options is fundamental in this regard.”