Ireland taxi drivers offered grants to switch to electric

13 February 2022

The Irish Department of Transport has re-introduced a multi-million Euro scheme which provides an incentive for taxi drivers to switch from internal combustion engine (ICE) models to electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEVs).

Owners of taxis, or small public service vehicles (SPSVs) , can apply for grants of up to €10,000 towards the purchase of a new EV, with a further €2,500 available to convert it to a wheelchair-accessible model. The eSPSV scheme will run until the end of the year, or when allocated funds are depleted.

If taxi owners choose to scrap their ICE-powered vehicle, they can qualify for a €20,000 sum, however, the eligibility of this is subject to the status and condition of the vehicle. The applicant must be an existing SPSV driver, with their vehicle being registered as an SPSV for the previous three years. Additionally, the vehicle must be within three years of its maximum permissible age, or have a mileage of 300,000km or greater.

Continuation of policy

This year, €15 million has been allocated for the EV taxi scheme, and it follows on from the introduction of the policy in 2021, when almost 600 drivers successfully applied for grants. This amounted to over €11 million being paid out for the move from ICE to EVs, as well as €4 million in provisional grant offers.

The renewed scheme follows on from some uncertainty in 2021, as the Irish Times reported that the funding had run into issues with the Department of Transport, who stated that there was no funds available in the exchequer to continue the grants. However, this issue seems to have been ironed out, with the scheme now continuing into this year.

‘More and more professional taxi drivers are voting with their wallets and making the move to EVs as an efficient, sustainable, and remarkably cost-effective alternative to expensive petrol and diesel,’ commented Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.

‘The electrification of the taxi fleet has been earmarked by the Department of Transport as an important component in the transition to cleaner fuels, contributing to the achievement of our national targets under the Climate Action Plan 2021 for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the transport sector.’

Further incentives

Additional benefits for taxi drivers in Ireland making the switch to an EV include the availing of vehicle registration tax (VRT) relief, up to €5,000 – access to a domestic charger scheme totalling €600, and annual toll refunds up to €1,000. Harder to quantify, but an additional appeal of the scheme, is the potential of significant fuel savings and lower maintenance costs associated with EVs.

Aside from reaching out to taxi drivers, as part of the Irish government’s commitment to addressing vehicle emissions, the Department of Transport are rolling out EV-friendly infrastructure, specifically aimed at taxis and SPSVs across the country. These are already in place at both Dublin and Cork airports and at a number of key rail stations on the rail network, including Dublin Heuston, Cork, and Limerick, with more installations planned for 2022.

As part of its Climate Action Plan launched in November last year, the Irish government identified that transport accounts for around 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Road transport is responsible for 96% of this amount and is also directly responsible for a range of other dangerous air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter. As the population of Ireland continues to grow, reliance on mobility services and private-car usage will only increase, meaning incentives for electromobility are essential to help the push for a greener future.