The motor industry has asked for a long-term plan on the government's electric vehicle promise

A million cars on Irish roads by 2030 is unlikely with no multi-year approach, companies warned.

By Laura Roddy Reporter, Fora

IRISH VEHICLE DISTRIBUTORS have asked for more clarity from the government on  future plans for electric vehicles.

Speaking at an electric vehicle summit in Croke Park yesterday, managing director of Hyundai Ireland Stephen Gleeson said the government needs to outline a more long-term approach to how it plans to implement the move towards electric vehicles.

Under the Climate Action Plan, policymakers have promised to have one million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030. There are currently around 14,000 on roads.

Gleeson told Fora that reaching the million-vehicle mark was “not impossible” but likely to happen only if a clear structure is put in place that will provide clarity for the industry going forward.

He said a multi-year approach would mean car distributors in Ireland could ask suppliers “to allocate X amount of production to our country”.

Gleeson explained that the car industry needs to know what the government plan to do with incentives around electric vehicles for the next four to five years, so that Irish distributors can inform manufacturers to increase production for Irish car dealers to meet demand from consumers. 

Up until this year the government has informed the industry of its plans to incentivise the move to electric cars on a yearly basis, which Gleeson said makes it hard to plan ahead. 

Speaking during a panel discussion with other heads of Irish car distributors, Gleeson said “if the manufacturers would ask for one thing from government, (it would be) a bit more than a one-year window” of notice on what they intend to do with incentives. 

“That would allow us to actually set up our businesses and plan things so that we know where we are going in three, four and five years time,” he said. 

The State has implemented various incentives, including a Vehicle Registration Tax rebate of €5,000, a grant of €5,000 for electric cars and €2,500 for hybrid vehicles, a €600 grant for installing a home charging unit, toll savings and an exemption of benefit in kind on company EVs.

In this year’s budget the government extended the zero rate of benefit kind for EVs to 2022. 

The lack of a long term plan also means if the government decide to pull these incentives a year in advance, it could largely impact the market and the manufacturers will be left with an oversupply of vehicles, Gleeson explained.

He warned that if incentives were pulled when the country is still at an early adaption phase it could “kill the market”. 

Volkswagen Ireland brand director Gerrit Heimberg said that confidence needs to be given to the consumers and to the businesses they support in terms of long-term direction from the government. 

“We need to orientate our businesses and our dealers need to orientate their businesses too,” he explained. 

Heimberg made the point that with the supports in place “the total cost of ownership of an electric car is very competitive. In fact, it is cheaper to drive an electric Golf to make an example than a Golf TDI, to compare like for like”. 

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