Forecourts seek tax breaks to boost electric cars

Irish fuel retailers have said they need tax incentives to provide electric charging points if the Government is to achieve its plan to encourage motorists to switch from petrol and diesel.

As countries including the UK and France announce plans to ban fossil fuel-driven vehicles from 2040, calls are increasing in Ireland to make electric cars friendlier for drivers.

Transport Minister Shane Ross has outlined Irish plans to go electric by 2050, and aims to have a target of 800,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2030.

However, a survey last month by the Green Party and the Irish Electric Vehicle Owners Association found the lack of high-speed charging points was the biggest hindrance to electric car owners.

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) said it would support a strategy to include more charging points in petrol stations but said fuel forecourt retailers needed to be given incentives to do so.

Spokesman David Blevings said: “IPRA would be supportive of a strategy to encourage more charging points in principle but there needs to be more involvement with the sector. Retailers are currently asked to pay for the installation of a charging point with no clear proposals on return on investment and clarity around charges for electric vehicle users who currently top up free of charge.”

Mr Blevings said more clarity was needed on how the extra electricity would be provided by the national grid if the plan to electrify transport was to work out.

“More worryingly is the lack of detail and clarity on where this extra electricity is coming from. We are being told to decarbonise heating and transport and move to more renewable sources but these renewable sources require an optimised and efficient delivery network.

“Everyone knows the current grid is at or near capacity. Where are the billions of euros coming from to upgrade the distribution network to allow everyone to charge their vehicle at home and decarbonise home heating?” he said.

He warned the revenue for the exchequer from fuel tax would not easily be replaced.

“A further concern is what plans have Government in mind to replace the current €2bn raised annually from fuel duty and around €220m from fuel carbon tax?

“This is a substantial part of the current budget and will not be easily replaced by low taxation class electric vehicles,” he said.

Mr Blevings said the IPRA and other industry stakeholders were willing to engage if a national strategy with “joined up thinking” was put in place.

There are 1,200 charging points across the country, according to the ESB, with one in every town with a population of over 1,500.

However, proponents of electric cars say there are not nearly enough along major routes such as motorways, and that drivers are anxious about running out of power, a point acknowledged by the Department of Finance.

Despite incentives such as grants of up to €5,000 and relief on motor tax, there are less than 2,500 electric cars on the road out of more than two million vehicles.

The majority of motorists support increased investment in electric car technology, according to recent research from AA Ireland. One-third of motorists said investment in electric vehicle charging points on a national scale should be a key Government priority.


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