Toll charges to be halved for electric cars
Electric car owners are set to save up to €1,000 with the introduction of discount toll charges for environmentally friendly vehicle owners.
Toll charges on the M50 and other major motorways are to be slashed by up to 75pc for drivers of electricity powered vehicles.
The move is the latest government initiative to increase the number of electric cars on the road.
From early summer, new and second-hand electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid car owners will be entitled to discounts on toll roads throughout the country. Traditional hybrid vehicles will not be covered by the scheme.
On the M50, fully electrical cars will be able to avail of half-price tolls during peak traffic hours and there will be a 75pc discount during off-peak hours.
Peak traffic hours are considered to be between 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm.
The current M50 toll charge for drivers with electronic tags is €2.10, which means electric car motorists will be charged €1.05 for each journey.
However, there will be a maximum annual cap on the discount rates of €500 for private car owners and €1,000 for commercial vehicles. The discount rates will only apply to the Port Tunnel during off-peak times rather than during rush hour.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he hopes the reduced toll charges will encourage more drivers to buy electric vehicles.
"I was delighted to secure funding as part of Budget 2018 to put in place this new tolling incentive for electric vehicles," Mr Ross said.
"This will bring additional savings to electric vehicle drivers, giving them significant reductions off the price of their toll journey.
"We hope that, for some, this prospect may be enough to tip the balance in favour of buying an electric vehicle."
Mr Ross said his analysis shows commuters using the M50 twice daily, five days a week, for 48 weeks a year can accumulate just over €1,000 worth of tolls annually.
"This incentive will mean major savings for an electronic car driver, particularly if the journey is done outside M50 peak hours where a higher 75pc discount will apply," he added.
It is estimated there are currently around 3,500 electric cars on the roads in Ireland but the Government is aiming to increase this to 50,000 vehicles by 2020.
The Government has introduced a number of measures in recent years to encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles.
Motorists can save up to €5,000 on VRT relief and apply for an additional Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) grant of €5,000 when they buy an electric vehicle.
There is also a €600 grant to buy a home charger for an electric car and drivers also qualify for the lowest band of motor tax of €120 a year.
Additional incentives include a zero percentage rate of benefit in kind charged on electric-powered vehicles along with tax incentives under the accelerated capital allowance scheme.
There are 900 charging points for electric cars in Ireland but drivers have complained about queues to use the power sources as the number of vehicles has increased.
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten has pledged to increase the number of high-powered charging points in the coming years.
The Government has held a number of Cabinet discussions on climate change and dedicated significant resources to the issue in recent budgets. Project Ireland 2040 also addresses climate change.