Fees for charging electric vehicles suggested

By Seán McCárthaigh

Fees should be introduced for the cost of charging electric vehicles (EV) from public chargers, a Government taskforce has recommended.

A progress report by the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce (LEVT) has proposed that fees will need to be imposed on motorists for using on-street and public charge points in order to make the provision of such infrastructure sustainable.

However, it warned that the level of fees would be “critically important” in order not to act as a disincentive against the purchase of EVs.

The taskforce has also estimated that the cost of existing supports to encourage the take up of electric vehicles could rise to more than €230 million per annum by 2023 — around 10 times its current level.

The taskforce said the funding of public charging, including fast charge points, must move over the coming years to a commercially viable model, as current free charging was unsustainable in the medium to long term.

“In order to do this, alternative funding streams will be needed,” it said. “This will include users of the infrastructure making a contribution and, in the short-term, a level of state support.”

The report said the provision of free public charging meant there was no incentive for consumers to charge at home at low-demand times.

It said it was also important that EV owners can pay for charging on an ad hoc basis without having to sign up to a particular scheme and that there was full inter-operability where all EV users would be able to charge at all public points.

The taskforce said capital support from the Government was still necessary as the limited numbers of EVs in the Republic meant it was unlikely to be commercially viable to develop and operate new public charge points even with the introduction of fees.

It claimed it would be “reasonable” to pitch fees for using fast charge points “on a par with fuelling a fossil fuel vehicle for the same journey”. The LEVT was established in December 2016 to advise the Government on a range of measures and options to accelerate the take-up of low carbon technologies in the road transport sector.

Sales of EVs are continuing to increase, albeit from a low base with more than 1,400 new EVs registered so far this year up until the end of July compared to 925 for all of 2017 and 697 in 2016.

In total, there are around 6,000 EVs currently being driven on Irish roads.

The latest progress report by the LEVT has recommended that the range of current financial incentives to accelerate sales of EVs should be maintained as well as the introduction of several new initiatives.

The financial projections for the cost of supports for the purchase of EVs is based on a low growth scenario — 8,000 EVs by 2020 which is less than half of the Government’s latest target which has repeatedly been revised downwards over the past decade.

The official target is for 20,000 EVs to be on Irish roads by 2020. The original target set in 2008 for the same timeframe was 200,000.

The taskforce said its recommendations must be kept under review in light of increasing EV uptake rates and the closing price gap between petrol and diesel cars and EVs.

It is estimated the cost of new EVs will achieve parity with conventionally fuelled vehicles by 2023 while it is expected all new car sales in the Republic will be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

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