Motorists urged to plug into greener car

MOTORISTS who face penalties for buying heavily polluting cars have been urged to plug into a greener alternative.

New vehicle registration and motor tax rates kick in tomorrow, which will make it more expensive to buy and run vehicles with engines that produce high levels of carbon, the greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming.

But as car buyers ponder the prospect of trading in their gas guzzler for a low CO2 emitting model, they are also being encouraged to consider a no-CO2 option — the electric car.

One local authority has pledged to provide public charging points for electric car owners who need to top up their battery.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will be the first in the country to provide the service when it installs the roadside facility later this year in response to a vote by local councillors on a motion by Green party member Gene Feighery.

“This is an excellent initiative and a real step forward for greener transport. I hope other local authorities take note of the progressive measures here in Dún Laoghaire and investigate installing charging points in their own community,” said Green party Energy Minister Eamon Ryan.

Ms Feighery, herself an electric car owner, said the advantages of going electric were all the greater given the relentless rise in petrol prices.

“With rising fuel costs it is inevitable people will be looking at alternatives and electric transport offers that. It is vital local councillors take the lead and ensure facilities are in place to encourage people to make the switch to a cleaner and more cost-effective form of transport,” she said.

“We also need to avoid the chicken and egg scenario where the council management say they can’t justify putting in charging points until there are enough electric cars on the road.”

According to the electric transport lobby, the average electric car — which can be charged anywhere it is in reach of a normal domestic electrical socket — costs just €200 in electricity per year while their exemption from VRT and their inclusion in the lowest rate of car tax makes them as kind to consumers’ pockets as they are to the environment.

Earlier this year, Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands, took delivery of a six-seater electric taxi, designed to cover 150km on a single charge. Electric buses are common on public service routes in almost a dozen cities across mainland EU and Britain.

Changeover — how the new tax rates will work

Vehicle Registration Tax: From July 1 VRT will be added to the basic price of the car at a rate that increases, the more polluting the car is.

Seven different rates will apply, ranging from 14% of the basic price to 36%.

All new cars will have to carry labels telling prospective buyers how polluting they are and which rate applies. Pollution is measured by the amount of carbon (C02) the car produces per kilometre.

Usually, cars with bigger engines burn more fuel and produce more CO2 and petrol cars emit more CO2 than diesel models. But some car makers are employing new fuel-efficient technologies that mean some bigger cars will be more efficient and less polluting than smaller ones.

Motor Tax: From July 1 motor tax on new vehicles will no longer be charged at a rate that increases with the engine size of the car but instead will increase with the amount of CO2 the car produces.

Seven rates will apply to correspond with the seven rates of VRT and the annual tax will range from €100 to €2,000.

Motorists who bought new cars between January 1 and June 30 will have the option of switching to the new rates when they next renew their tax. Cars bought and registered before January 1 this year will continue to be taxed at the old rates, according to engine size.

To mark the changeover, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan yesterday visited Dún Laoghaire, where charging points for electric vehicles are to be installed.

* Full details of the new VRT rates are on www.revenue.ie and the new motor tax rates are on www.environ.ie


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