Transition to Zero Emissions

The Motor Industry is fully supportive of a transition towards zero emissions, as the suppliers of cleaner technology, we are part of the solution and will work with all the relevant stakeholders.

  • Change can happen with the right measures, but cannot happen overnight, and sensible policies aimed at encouraging motorist to make the right choices can lead to clean affordable and convenient mobility solutions.
  • During the transition to a world of Zero-Emitting Vehicles (ZEVs), we need to ensure that current diesel, petrol and hybrid vehicles are not devalued through negative or punitive measures by the State as this would significantly increase the cost for consumers to change from their current diesel/petrol car to a new electric car.
  • New technologies bring new opportunities and the creation of Autonomous, Connected, Electric and shared technologies will offer potential for high calibre job creation and significant economic growth. Ireland is well positioned to play a leading role in developing the technology and to be at the forefront of this knowledge creation.

How the Motor Industry is helping to reduce emissions

SIMI and our members embrace the Paris Agreement Climate Change Agreement and the European Green Deal and their goals. The transition to zero emissions transport must be ambitious and the Industry will not be found wanting in this regard; it is already making significant investments in the region of €60bn in reducing emissions, both from traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles and also by increasing the suite of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) available for sale in Ireland. 

However, the transition to zero emissions must also be fair, not just to the Industry but also to motorists, by allowing them to retain value in their current vehicle, which in turn will facilitate them to trade-up to a newer lower emitting vehicle. The key to reducing transport emissions will be renewal of the Irish car fleet.

Reduce the age of our National Car Fleet: Reduce emissions from transport

The quickest way for Ireland to reach our commitments is through the replacement of the fleet. At the moment the cars in Ireland are one average 9 years of age and they are getting older (This compares to 5.8 years at the start of 2008). The average age of a petrol car on Irish roads is now 10.9 years old, and the average age of a diesel car is now 7.45 years old.

We simply have not been selling enough new cars over the last decade to materially reduce the average age of our national fleet. With the recent COVID pandemic and the threat of Brexit, the new car market will be below 100,000 cars this year. We need it to be 150,000 cars, to increase the number of electric and Plug-In hybrid cars, to reach any ambitious target to reduce our carbon emissions. Newer vehicles mean cleaner technologies with lower emissions, less pollutants and more electric and alternative fuel cars. The key to reducing transport emissions will be renewal of the Irish car fleet.

This dynamic must be reversed to start the move to alternative fuel technologies as soon as possible, and in this context, we need to see a new car market averaging 150,000 new car sales per year, in order to sustain jobs, protect exchequer income and create viable businesses. 

The UK is our nearest trading partner and their economic policies and their future relationship with the EU has caused huge uncertainty. This has had a negative impact on the value of sterling. This weakness of sterling has led to a significant increase in the number of imported vehicles. In many cases that can be good news for the consumer but it’s not good news for our emissions targets. We have already become a dumping ground for older used vehicles. This increase in CO2 emission from used car imports is off setting the reduction in CO2 emissions of newer cars. Since 2016 there has been over 150,000 imported cars that do not meet the latest EU emission standards.

This renewal process involves all engine types, not just electric vehicles. The Industry is supplying lower emitting cars and will continue to do so into the future. 

We need a VRT and Road Tax system that supports this renewal and replacement of the fleet, resulting in a reduction in the average age of our car fleet. That, together with behavioural change in how we travel will reduce our carbon footprint. The tax system needs to encourage consumers to “change-up” to a new or newer less environmentally damaging car. Newer cars are less environmentally damaging than older cars, from a CO2, NOx and Particulate Matter perspective. The higher the rate of replacement of older, more polluting cars with the cleanest new cars, the greater the improvement in environmental emissions will be. 

Technology Neutral Approach

Watch ACEA's animated video to learn more about the potential of the full range of powertrain options available for trucks, vans and buses. These include conventional combustion engines running on diesel or petrol and alternative drives, fuelled by bio fuels, natural gas and hydrogen, as well as electric and hybrid-electric technologies. There are many and varied needs for business, there is no one solution that suits all, so a technology neutral approach is required by policy makers.