Wednesday 28 June 2017

Minister considers free parking and use of bus lanes by electric cars

Owners of electric vehicles could be allowed to drive in bus lanes and enjoy free onstreet parking in an effort to boost sales. Stock photo: Getty
Owners of electric vehicles could be allowed to drive in bus lanes and enjoy free onstreet parking in an effort to boost sales. Stock photo: Getty
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Owners of electric vehicles could be allowed to drive in bus lanes and enjoy free on-street parking in an effort to boost sales.

Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said he was considering introducing incentives already in place in other countries to try and encourage take-up and reduce transport emissions, which are causing dangerous climate change.

The Electric Vehicles grant scheme, introduced in April 2011, provides supports of up to €5,000 towards the cost. EVs are also exempt from VRT and customers who qualify for the grant are also eligible for a free domestic charging point.

But uptake has been slow, with just 1,465 new cars grant-aided to date. Some 375 were bought this year.

The lack of interest is in part due to their higher cost, but also concerns about range where motorists believe the car will lose their charge before reaching their destination.

"There hasn't been the uptake we would have liked to have seen," the minister said. "To be honest, we thought at this stage we'd be phasing the supports out.

"There is an issue outside of urban conurbations with range, but the range will come. Within urban areas, we need to look at how we would tweak that.

"We'll be exploring a number of options. We're trying to look at what's worked elsewhere and might work here. We need to transition away from diesel and to EVs and hybrid."

One option under consideration is the so-called Norwegian model. EVs are not subject to road tax or VAT, enjoy free tolls and free public parking.

In addition, they are also allowed to use bus lanes, which would be of major benefit to commuters living in major cities as it would substantially cut journey times.

Some 48,000 EVs have been sold in Norway, which has the highest number per capita in the world. Around 1.5pc of the national fleet is electric.

The minister said a number of options were being considered, but they might not be announced in next month's Budget.

He also said his department was in discussions about trialling the use of electric buses between Dublin and Cork to see if they could be rolled out across the public transport network.

Electric buses are used throughout many major cities, including Paris, but cost far more than traditional ones.

"The big problem with electric vehicles (EVs) in relation to the transport system is the capital costs are much higher, but the running costs are lower," Mr Naughten added.

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