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Saturday 30 August 2014

Electric vehicles to get free parking if new laws are put in motion

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

Published 30/04/2012 | 05:00

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ELECTRIC car drivers could get prime city parking spots free of charge under legislation being introduced by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

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New measures to allow local authorities to reserve certain parking spots for electric vehicles -- and waive or reduce parking charges for their use -- are set to be tabled within weeks.

The move is aimed at encouraging more drivers to switch to clean electric cars, as currently there are only around 200 such vehicles on the road.

The ESB has rolled out 233 public recharging points, and said it will have 1,500 in place by 2013, but currently drivers can find access to roadside charge points hindered because there's nothing to stop other motorists parking at the bays.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy drafted the Smarter Transport Bill because a major stumbling block in current legislation means local authorities cannot even designate on-street recharging stations for electric vehicles only.

"Recharging stations like individual mini-petrol stations are being rolled out nationwide, but you currently have the ridiculous situation where an electric car driver can't refuel because a normal car is hogging the space," he said.

"Local authorities would also be able to say electric cars can get half price or free parking in certain spots, which are the kind of incentives we need to encourage their use," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he supported the measures and planned to incorporate the legislation within a forthcoming road traffic bill to ensure it could get passed into law this year.

Electric car owner Brian Cullen said this was an important measure, and further incentives like zero road tax and allowing electric cars to use bus lanes should be considered.

The industry has hit back at claims the electric car project has been a flop, claiming Ireland is now rolling out a world-class infrastructure, with "futureproof" recharging facilities unlike other countries that will have to upgrade theirs.

Over 100 jobs have been created in the rollout, including 18 in the ESB so far and a number of Irish companies have helped develop technology, apps and equipment such as charging points and cables that could provide valuable export opportunities, said ESB ecars Managing Director Paul Mulvaney.

Portable

This includes Wicklow company JTM Power, which has developed the world's first portable charger for electric cars which it hopes to sell internationally to recovery services like the AA.

Enterprise Ireland will showcase these companies at a major international conference on electric vehicles being held in Dublin in July, in the hopes of getting overseas buyers interested.

The target of getting 200,000 electric cars on Irish roads by 2020 and creating 600 jobs might seem like a long way off, but sky-high oil prices and vastly lower running costs would soon convince motorists to go electric, said Mr Mulvaney.

"We've taken an 'if you build it, they will come' approach, and all the trends are in the right direction.

"All the car companies have an electric vehicle programme so it's going to become a really viable option as the price gap narrows with other vehicles," he said.

Irish Independent

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