Wednesday 18 October 2017

Industry chiefs urge Government to do more to help sales of zero-emission vehicles

Industry chiefs urge Government to do more to help sales of zero-emission vehicles

Future vision: Nissan Ireland CEO James McCarthy pictured with a Nissan Leaf
Future vision: Nissan Ireland CEO James McCarthy pictured with a Nissan Leaf

Martin Brennan

As Ireland joins the global battle to tackle greenhouse gases under tough new rules discussed in Paris last week, there is renewed pressure from the motor industry for improved government tax breaks and incentives to help sales of zero-emission electric vehicles.

Pollution from emissions in the transport and agriculture industries has been highlighted as areas where reductions in C02 emissions are essential if we are to meet our targets as part of the push for a cleaner environment.

James McCarthy, CEO of Nissan Ireland, says the exchequer receives on average €8,500 on every new car sale in VAT and VRT.

"The Government should move quickly to help improve the sale of zero-emission EVs to help meet our targets," he says.

"Sales have been sluggish despite tax reductions and are not expected to reach the Government-hoped-for target of 50,000 EVs on our roads by 2020.

"The Government tax take on new car sales this year is €1.2bn and my company has contributed €100m to this figure so I think there is room for further incentives which would help the Government reach its new global emission target figures," Mr McCarthy says. The industry also points to the extra revenue from taxes on fuel and insurance.

The McCarthy initiative is supported by other electric vehicle importers as he calls for no benefit-in-kind tax for owners of EVs; free access to toll roads and bus lanes and ambition by the Government to make the country's 17,000 taxis (10,000 in the Dublin area) electric.

The motor industry employs 45,000 here and the number is growing as confidence returns with improved sales of cars and commercial vehicles.

"This means that old dirty and inefficient cars are being replaced by newer, cleaner models that are safer on our roads," Mr McCarthy says.

Sales of Nissan's EV Leaf have doubled this year, with 400 registered. The target is to sell 1,000 a year by 2017 and this could be greater with the right incentives, Mr McCarthy says.

"With the right help there could be 50,000 pollution-free EVs on our roads by 2020 which would help cut down the risk of heavy penalties on the Government for non-compliance with new global rules on emissions.

"Under the Government National Energy Plan of 2012 the strategy was to have 50,000 EVs on our roads by 2020 and it is felt that new incentives are needed. Such incentives as those proposed by Nissan worked in Norway where their 50,000 target was met in April this year, two years ahead of schedule.

"Developments in EV technology in terms of better performing batteries and motors means that the range per charge has recently increased and this will improve in the future as lightweight battery technology progresses."

Mr McCarthy was speaking at the opening of a new Nissan showroom at Windsor Motors in Deansgrange, Co. Dublin, which is designed to attract modern car buyers. The theme is a paperless, desk-free environment where digital screens and mobile technology replaces brochures.

"The new showrooms reflect the reality that today's car-buying experience starts online and that customers are seeking a no-nonsense approach when they visit the showrooms," Mr. McCarthy said.

Sunday Independent

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