Electric taxi grants re-opened

Van News | Electric taxi grants re-opened | CompleteVan.ie
FreeNow says 75 per cent of Irish taxi users want "sustainable, electric transport options."

The Irish Government has re-instated the grant support for drivers and operators wanting to purchase an electric taxi. €15-million has been allocated to the scheme by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan. Last year, the scheme was so successful that the Department ran out of budget, leaving many taxi owners and operators stymied towards the end of 2021. Six hundred drivers applied for grants during the course of last year, with more than €11 million paid out and €4 million in provisional grant offers.

Up to €25,000 taxi grant available

Taxi drivers can apply for grants of up to €10,000 towards the purchase of a new, full-battery eSPSV (Electric Small Public Service Vehicle), with a further €2,500 available to convert it to a wheelchair-accessible model. Drivers are eligible for double the normal grant when they scrap an older, more polluting or high mileage vehicle and make the switch to electric. By scrapping and switching €20,000 will be available for a new, fully electric SPSV, and if the taxi is a wheelchair-accessible electric vehicle, the supports will rise to €25,000. SPSV drivers who make the switch to an EV can also avail of VRT relief (up to €5,000), the Domestic Charger Scheme (up to €600) and annual toll refunds (up to €1,000). This amount is in addition to the significant fuel savings and lower maintenance costs associated with electric models.

Minister Ryan said: “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. 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.”

More taxi charging points

The Department has also said that it will ramp up investment in taxi-specific charging points. Such points are already in service at Dublin and Cork airports and a number of key stations on the rail network, including Dublin Heuston, Cork Kent and Limerick Colbert, and more locations are planned for 2022.

The move to restore grants and expand charging comes at a time when electric options for taxis are fast expanding. Last month, Peugeot, Opel, and Citroen jointly announced that their van-based passenger vehicles, the Partner, Combo, and Berlingo, will now only be available as electric cars, using a 50kWh battery with a nominal range of 280km. These vehicles are potentially ideal for taxi use, especially for wheelchair accessible conversions.

It also seems to be the case that Irish taxi customers are increasingly looking to use electric taxis. According to a survey by taxi app operator FreeNow, 75 per cent of customers want to see more electric options.

FreeNow electric fleet grew by 30 per cent

Fiona Brady, Head of Operations & Public Affairs for FreeNow Ireland, told Complete Van that: “We are delighted that the Government has announced the reintroduction of its electric vehicle taxi scheme today - with an overall €15 million allocation by the Department of Transport for 2022 and a crucial support of up to €25,000 available for taxi drivers who are considering the transition to electric. We saw how successful the scheme was last year in helping so many of our own driver partners to transition to EVs. The FreeNow electric fleet grew to 30 per cent of our entire nationwide taxi offering last year with support from the government scheme.

“This decision from Government is also positive news for people across the country given the growing demand for sustainable transport options – recent data from our passengers showed that three-quarters think Ireland needs more sustainable, electric transport options in line with other European countries. And with 48 per cent more passengers choosing electric taxis in 2021 versus 2020 on the FreeNow app, we anticipate continued growth in EV preference moving forward, particularly as supply of EV taxis expands. It’s a key priority for FreeNow to play our part too in supporting drivers to convert to electric, and we have a number of support initiatives in place including: a dedicated EV Expert Switch Team that provides advice and resources to drivers; an EV Match Scheme which offers financial support to drivers to purchase home chargers; EV Roadshows consisting of a series of regional events in 2022 to showcase the benefits of electric driving for the taxi driver community. Overall, the extension of the government’s financial support is another key step in helping to establish a more sustainable and environmentally friendly public transport network in Ireland, particularly as we continue to advance towards the Government’s ambitious targets for 2030 and the need to reduce carbon emissions across the transport sector amplifies.”

Published on February 8, 2022 Written by