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Toyota calls for Nitrogen Oxide tax

EPA air quality report is a clear indicator that the government should further discourage the purchase of diesel passenger cars

The EPA today released a report showing that Nitrogen Dioxide levels due to traffic in Dublin do indeed pose a serious public health risk. Toyota Ireland has reacted by calling on Government to incorporate Nitrous Oxide as part of vehicle registration tax (VRT) in order to drive improvement in air quality in Ireland.

Steve Tormey, CEO of Toyota Ireland, commented;

“Toyota stopped selling diesel cars in Europe at the beginning of this year with much evidence being available across the continent and in the UK that fumes from diesel cars have been seriously damaging to 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.”

The clear takeaway from this report is that Ireland remains far too dependent on diesel in vehicle transport, and that diesel cars are ultimately damaging human health.

There are over 1.7 million diesel passenger cars on the road in Ireland, accounting for 62%(1) of Ireland’s national car fleet, while diesel car sales in 2019 remain at almost 50% 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% in 2018 (ACEA)[2].

The situation with used car imports is even worse. Ireland is expected to import over 70,000(3) 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, in fact over 25 times less than the current legal limits for diesel cars(4).

Furthermore, in a study carried out by UCD academics last year(5), Toyota’s self-charging hybrids were shown to drive in zero emissions mode over 60% of the time in typical commuting conditions and up to 76% 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.

Mr Tormey further commented, “While we recognise that in Budget 2019 the Government introduced a 1% levy on VRT for diesel cars, we believe that Government should now make Nitrous Oxide emissions part of the VRT calculation in order to improve air quality in our cities.”

1. http://www.dttas.ie/sites/default/files/publications/roads/english/irish-bulletin-vehicle-and-driver-statistics-2018/irish-bulletin-vehicle-and-driver-statistics-2018.pdf
2. https://www.acea.be/uploads/publications/ACEA_Pocket_Guide_2019-2020.pdf
3. https://stats.beepbeep.ie/  used car imports ytd 2019 are 72% diesel
4. Typically, the NO2 emissions of self-charging electric hybrid cars are in the range of 3-4 mg/km as compared to the currently allowed legal levels for diesel cars of 80 mg/Km for diesel cars and 60 mg/km for petrol cars (based on the current Euro 6 emissions regulations).
5. https://www.ucd.ie/innovation/news-and-events/latest-news-items/ucdstudyrevealstoyotahybridsdriveover60ofthetimeinzeroemissionsmode/name,444538,en.html