MORE than 250,000 electric cars will be on Irish roads by the end of the next decade.
And, in an incentive to have 10% of all Irish-registered vehicles powered by electricity by 2020, the Government will be offering a 100% tax write-off to businesses.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan yesterday expressed confidence the new tax allowances could see Ireland become a major test centre for car manufacturers.
The incentives come under the Accelerated Capital Allowance Scheme, designed to encourage firms to switch to more energy-efficient equipment.
A special taskforce is also being established which will examine the infrastructure necessary for a national roll-out of electric vehicles, especially the availability of battery-charging facilities.
The state energy agency, Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), is also to set up a €1 million project to research, develop and promote the use of electric vehicles, including public demonstrations of electric cars.
SEI has also published a buyer’s guide and developed a calculator to help motorists estimate the cost of switching from petrol and diesel models.
However, an SEI report published last May revealed there are few immediate economic benefits for motorists to change to electric or hybrid cars due to their high purchase cost, even though they cut down on CO2 emissions and have lower running costs.
SEI estimates CO2 levels in the Republic could be cut by 350,000 tonnes if the target of 10% of car-owners switch to electric models over the next few years.
Transport accounts for 35% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions — the largest of any sector including industry and private households.
SEI chair Brendan Halligan admitted a significant amount of work was still necessary for electric cars to gain widespread acceptance. “We will need to alter our attitudes towards electric vehicles and accept that there is no other way forward,” he said.
Mr Ryan, who jointly announced details of the new plans with Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said the Government expected considerable international investment to result from the new plan which would also help Ireland reduce its annual €6bn bill for fossil fuels.
But Fine Gael’s energy spokesperson Simon Coveney criticised the Government’s plans, claiming the 10% target for electric cars by 2020 was unambitious and inadequate.
“It is both feasible and realistic to aspire to achieve the complete replacement of petrol and diesel engine driven cars with electric vehicles within 15 years,” said Mr Coveney.
He pointed out that other countries had already set such targets.
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