THE drive to cut the number of ‘dirty diesels’ on our roads has gathered significant pace after a major distributor here announced a ‘scrap’ deal worth up to €6,500 on an old car or van.
The Volkswagen Group, which distributes Audi, SEAT, SKODA and Volkswagen models here, say the ‘EcoGrant’ is designed to encourage thousands of people to drive new cars with ‘cleaner’ engines.
The incentives – ranging from €800 to €6,500 depending on model bought - apply to old diesels registered up to 2011, according to the company.
The average amount involved will be €3,000 to €5,000.
The VW Group new models people can buy under the scheme may be petrol, diesel, electric or plug-in hybrids. The old vehicles – many going back well into the nineties - will be completely scrapped so there will be no chance of them re-appearing.
The move comes as automakers, generally, battle against widespread attacks on diesel - and to boost sales as demand for such vehicles slackens. Ironically, much of the controversy now around diesel followed the Volkswagen emissions-dodging scandal involving millions of vehicles worldwide.
There is also growing pressure in Ireland for a Budget increase in the cost of diesel.
Nonetheless, this is by far the biggest initiative of its kind by an Irish-based distributor.
It has the potential to take thousands of old diesels off the road because the VW Group accounts for 25pc of all new-vehicle sales here each year.
It is understood a special website will be set up so people can check if their car qualifies.
To qualify, the vehicle has to be ordered by December 31 this year, registered by June 30 next and the trade-in needs to have been owned by the customer for at least six months. The scheme starts from September 8.
Some examples of how much the ‘grant’ would be worth include: €1,000 if buying a new Volkswagen up!, €1,750 against a new Polo, €3,000 against a Golf and €4,000 for a Passat buyer.
The sum towards an Audi A4 is €5,000 with the Audi Q7e-tron at €6,500.
Scrapping an old car and buying a new SEAT Ibiza would involve a €1,500 grant; with €2,750 against a new Octavia. Amounts for vans range from €2,000 to €4,000.
In the case of an electric Golf the grant sum involved swells to €14,000 when combined with existing SEAI grants and VRT rebates.
And in the case of the Audi A3 e-tron there would be a total of €12,000 off the full price after the new deal and existing incentives.
Lars Himmer, CEO of Volkswagen Group Ireland, said it was “particularly significant” that they are “actually going to take the qualifying vehicles off the road, with a Certificate of Destruction required to avail of the EcoGrant.”