The Irish motoring industry has hit out at the removal of the €2,500 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) grant, saying the timing is "deplorable".
It follows the announcement made on Monday by the Department of Transport that the grant will expire from January 1, as part of changes being made to state supports for the electric vehicle sector.
In July 2021, the PHEV SEAI grant was halved from €5,000 to €2,500.
Anyone who has pre-ordered a PHEV for 2022 will no longer be able to avail of the grant, with the scheme only now applying to vehicles that are delivered, registered and taxed before the end of 2021.
However, if delivery has been delayed due to the global semiconductor shortage the availability of the grant will be extended out to March 31.
The department says PHEVs will continue to attract supports including home charger grants and reduced tolls.
Brian Cooke of the Society for the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said the decision is "anti-consumer and anti-environment" and would undermine the aim of reducing emissions from the national car fleet.
"PHEVs are an important stepping-stone to going fully electric, particularly in parts of rural Ireland where this is a lack of charging infrastructure. For the first quarter of next year PHEVs have been ordered well in advance of the Budget," he added.
So far this year, 7,658 PHEV cars have been sold and the sector is expecting sales of around 11,000 next year.
"The Government’s Climate Action Plan hopes to have 94,000 PHEVs on our roads by 2025 and 290,000 by 2030," Mr Cooke said.
"The removal of these incentives undermines this plan and runs counter to the aim of reducing emissions."
SIMI said the Government has "moved the goalposts" for the second time in two weeks with the change following an increase in VRT announced in last week's budget.
Paddy Comyn, head of communications with AA Ireland, says it sends the wrong signals to customers considering the move to a more economic option.
"We feel that the announcement of the cessation of PHEV grants in January... is premature and will not encourage the move away from petrol or diesel cars,” Mr Comyn said.
“PHEVs are a stepping stone for many people away from petrol and diesel cars and for some people, a Battery Electric Vehicle doesn’t quite yet meet their needs and a PHEV would have given many motorists the natural progression to move into a BEV."