The government is encouraging businesses to switch to electric vehicles as part of its Climate Action Plan 2021, which aims to cut carbon emissions. Funding, grants, and tax incentives are available to smaller businesses looking to buy electric vehicles (EVs).
SEAI estimated that transport accounted for 42% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland in 2019. With fuel costs rising, now may be a perfect time for your business to introduce electric vehicles into your fleet. EVs can form part of your business’ energy or environmental management systems as part of ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 certification, helping to reduce your business’s environmental impact and energy use, along with lowering operational costs.
Types of electric vehicles
In Ireland, there are different classes of electric vehicles available and SEAI details the pros and cons of each class.
- Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – electric batteries entirely power a BEV. They produce fewer emissions but have a smaller driving range than vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
- Hybrid vehicles (HEVs) – HEVs are powered by both fossil fuels and electric motors, resulting in hybrid vehicles that utilises different energy sources depending on the situation. They have a similar driving capacity to purely petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, but the electric batteries must be charged more often than BEVs.
- Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) – have an internal combustion engine (ICE) as well as a battery-powered electric motor. The vehicle runs on electric power until the battery is depleted, then switches over to use the ICE.
The pros and cons of switching to electric vehicles
Switching your business fleet to electric vehicles needs careful planning. Issues such as purchasing and running costs through to the logistics of accessing a charging network require assessing before making the switch.
Electric vehicles for business – advantages
Switching to EVs has several advantages – from saving money on fuel to being part of a continual improvement process within an environmental management system such as ISO 14001 or an energy management system such as ISO 50001 certification.
There is now more choice when it comes to EV vehicles. Whether your business delivers parcels, food or furniture, or has salespeople or engineers that need to be on the road, there’s a variety of electric vehicles to suit your needs. The driving range of electric vehicles has improved too in recent years, with an increasing number of EVs capable of travelling over 400km on a single charge.
With fuel prices soaring due to supply constraints and geopolitical activities, it can be hard to forecast fuel costs, and increased costs can eat into a business’s margin. While electricity costs have also increased, EVs are far cheaper to run than similar vehicles that use fossil fuels, helping to reduce costs and improve margins.
Boost your brand image
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan aims to put almost one million EVs and low-emitting vehicles (LEVs) on the road by 2030. Your business could help achieve these goals by switching to electric vehicles. You’d be boosting your brand image and demonstrating a strong sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Certification in ISO standards
Opting for electric vehicles can form part of your business’s environmental or energy management system. Implementing an environmental management system as part of ISO 14001 or an energy management system as part of ISO 50001 can help win customer trust, provide access to certain tenders and contract opportunities, and boost overall brand reputation.
Electric vehicles for business – disadvantages
Transitioning to an electric vehicle fleet can have a few drawbacks, which are worth considering. These include:
Up-front prices are relatively high for EVs – ranging from 15 to 50% higher than a similar non-electric vehicle. However, there are a number of grants and loans available to businesses looking to make the switch. Visit SEAI’s website for more information.
Lack of national infrastructure
Although Ireland has long-term plans to introduce more electric vehicles, the national infrastructure to support this isn’t currently widespread. There are around 1,900 chargers installed at 800 sites across Ireland. If your business isn’t close to a charging site, you may need to factor in the cost of installing charging points. Take care to plot typical routes your vehicles travel, including distances and locations, to see if they are in range of charging points.
Charging time can depend on various factors, such as the BEV/PHEV model, the charger being used, and how depleted the battery is. This means that re-charging can take a few minutes or several hours. Your business may need to factor in the time required to charge vehicles to minimise the impact of potential lost business.
How much can you save with electric vehicles?
It’s estimated that EVs can save you more than 70% on fuel costs. Reductions in running costs stretch even further, with toll reductions of 50% for battery EVs and a 25% reduction for plug-in hybrid EVs. Battery EVs also qualify for tax incentives, meaning they are eligible for the lowest band of motor tax available in Ireland.
EV grant Ireland – funding and schemes
Various EV grants are available for businesses in Ireland through the SEAI. These grants vary between BEVs and PHEVs.
- Electric vehicle grants – SEAI offers grants to support purchases of N1 category BEV vehicles. N1 category vehicles are usually small goods vans. The maximum grant available is €3,800 for eligible vehicles.
- Motor tax – as of January 2022, the annual motor tax for BEVs is €120.
- Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) – EVs up to €40,000 will receive VRT relief of up to €5,000. If your EV is priced at over €50,000, it’s not eligible for VRT relief.
- Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) – this is a tax incentive scheme, with electric vehicles being one of the categories. The accelerated allowance for EVs is based on either the actual cost of the vehicle or €24,000, whichever is lower.
- Benefit in Kind (BiK) – if your business provides company vehicles to its employees, then BiK tax is applied. BEVs currently qualify for 0% BiK on the first €50,000 of the vehicle’s value. PHEVs don’t qualify for BiK as they can still consume fossil fuels.
- Toll incentive scheme – this scheme’s refund depends on things such as the time and day of the transaction and the eligibility of the vehicle. The scheme offers a maximum of €500 a year for private vehicles, and €1,000 for goods vehicles.