Ireland is facing EU fines of up to €6 billion for failing to reduce carbon emissions and to put a coherent strategy into place to achieve its target of having 50,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2020.
“The initial target set in 2010 was to have 230,000 EVs on our roads by 2020. It was re-set to 50,000 EVs in 2014 and a new target of 20,000 EVs is now proposed. How do you hit a moving target?” asked Nissan CEO, James McCarthy at today’s Transport and Climate Summit in Dublin.
Nissan, who are Ireland’s biggest seller of EVs, said that cumulative sales of EVs in Ireland is unlikely to exceed 7,000 units by 2020 without the speedy delivery of a well maintained national charging infrastructure with a sensible tariff structure and policies to encourage and reward EV adoption.
Policy-makers attending the conference heard that EVs accounted for 618 of the 218,000 new car sales and used imports into Ireland in 2016, along with a series of policy proposals from Nissan to put 20,000 EVs, like its zero emissions Nissan LEAF, onto Irish roads by 2020.
“The delivery of an electro mobility strategy is central to Ireland meeting its commitments to reduce CO2 emissions. The combined 2020 and 2030 costs to the State of failing to meet those commitments is estimated at between €3b and €6b,” said Mr. McCarthy.
“Ireland is failing utterly in its EV strategy and C02 emissions continue to increase as the population and car ownership grows. 20,000 EVs by 2020 is achievable if the government gets serious, takes action and stops making grand statements of intent,” he continued.
He proposed the introduction of policy requiring 20% of the car fleets purchased by the State, public bodies and local authorities to be EVs, levying fines against local authorities who fail to achieve EV targets and a BIK exemption for those driving EVs for business.
“Local authorities have no skin the game. Dublin, with about 40% of the national car fleet should have a minimum of 8,000 EVs registered by 2020. The Dublin taxi fleet should be mandated to go EV from 2018 with the support of a scrappage scheme,” said Mr. McCarthy.
“Dublin City Council has shown no evidence of its commitment to implement European best practice to establish an e-vehicles network in the Dublin city region. Best practice requires the provision of a comprehensive charging infrastructure and ‘soft benefits’ such as free parking, free road tolls and access to bus lanes for EV drivers,” he added.
Mr. McCarthy said Ireland had much to learn from Norway where the introduction of such ‘soft benefits’ to encourage and reward EV drivers had succeeded in attracting 126,000 people to adopt EV driving.
“Currently, there are around 2,000 EV drivers in Ireland. The population and demographics of Ireland and Norway are quite similar and the same EV cars are available in both countries. Norway has succeeded in changing the dial on EVs because it took action to encourage and reward EV driving,” he stated.