Toyota Ireland is calling on the Government to include nitrogen dioxide as part of vehicle registration tax in order to improve air quality in Ireland.
This follows a recent EPA report showing nitrogen dioxide levels due to traffic in Dublin pose a public health risk.
Steve Tormey, CEO of Toyota Ireland, says Toyota stopped selling diesel cars in Europe at the beginning of this year with evidence available in Europe and Britain that diesel car fumes have been seriously damaging human health.
"Now we have the first clear evidence that the same is true in Dublin. We expect that the expansion of monitoring will, in the future, confirm that similar is also occurring in other Irish cities and towns,” Steve Tormey says.
He says it is clear Ireland remains far too dependent on diesel in vehicle transport, and that diesel cars are ultimately damaging human health.
There are more than 1.7 million diesel passenger cars on the road in Ireland, accounting for 62 per cent of Ireland’s national car fleet, while diesel car sales in 2019 remain at almost 50per cent of the market. Most European countries have seen a much greater reduction in diesel car sales in recent years, with diesel cars having an average share across Europe of 36 per cent in 2018.
The situation with used car imports is even worse, he says.
Ireland is expected to import over 70,000 used diesel cars from the UK this year, with many of these being non-compliant with current emissions regulations and likely to be emitting even higher levels of NO2. By contrast, self-charging hybrid electric cars have minimal nitrous oxide emissions - some 25 per cent less than the current legal limits for diesel cars.
Furthermore, he says, in a study carried out by UCD academics last year, Toyota’s self-charging hybrids were shown to drive in zero emissions mode over 60 per cent of the time in typical commuting conditions, and up to 76 per cent of the time in city centre driving.
"It is clear that self-charging hybrid electric cars are the best immediate technology to tackle the issue of air quality emissions in Dublin city and the surrounding area.
Government policy currently incentivises the purchase of diesel cars with cheaper excise rates for diesel fuel than for petrol and a VAT reclaim on diesel fuel used in business, while not allowing the same for petrol fuel used in business. These diesel fuel incentives mean that company cars, which by definition do much more mileage than privately owned cars, are almost exclusively diesel.
Tormey says: “While we recognise that in Budget 2019 the Government introduced a one per cent levy on VRT for diesel cars, we believe the Government should now make nitrous oxide emissions part of the VRT calculation in order to improve air quality in our cities.”