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Cork Independent


Survey says Irish drivers are wary of extra diesel taxes

Wednesday, 30th October, 2019 4:37pm


56 per cent of Irish drivers say that it’s not fair to penalise those who were encouraged to buy and drive diesel-engined cars under the current motor tax and VRT system.

Car owners being against extra taxation is, perhaps, not exactly news, but the survey, by tax experts, shows the narrow margin within which the Government has to work for Budget 2020.

The announcement of the new nitrogen oxide-based tax, plus the delay to the introduction of new VRT bands shows that while the Government is pushing us more towards electric and hybrid vehicles, it’s clearly wary of using too big a stick.

Joanna Murphy, CEO of, told The Cork Independent: “To date, Ireland’s VRT and motor tax regime has been based on promoting vehicles with low CO2 emissions and hence better fuel economy.

“As diesel provides better fuel economy than petrol, their use has long been incentivised. Given previous measures to promote the use of diesel vehicles, it is perhaps unsurprising that many of those surveyed (56 per cent) believe that diesel drivers would be unfairly penalised.”

Any punishment of diesel could also prove to be a double-edged sword. Irish buyers have already begun to move away from diesel power in the past four years, since the scandal over diesel emissions broke, but that has coincided with a rise in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Diesel engines are generally leaner in CO2 than petrol engines, and the rise of both hybrid and electric sales has not yet been enough to compensate for moves both away from diesel and towards larger, heavier, SUV models. The introduction of the new WLTP fuel economy standard has also artificially raised official CO2 emissions figures, as the test is more realistic than the old NEDC setup.

Carbon emissions from cars in Ireland climbed for the first time in more than a decade in 2018. According to data from, average CO2 emissions from Irish cars rose to 113g/km.

That’s the first time emissions have risen since 2004, and much of the blame is being laid on the decline in popularity of diesel. John Byrne, general counsel at, told The Cork Independent: “Remember, we are looking exclusively at new cars sold in Ireland so any arguments with respect to imported vehicles can be entirely discounted. We considered whether the average emissions are possibly increasing in line with a buying trend towards purchase of more expensive vehicles, meaning these results are correlative with the general increase in the value of new vehicles sold.

“However, this wouldn’t really explain the increase in emissions per se as manufacturers have invested considerable amounts of money to reduce emissions in their fleet in-line with overarching concerns for the environment globally.”

Ms Murphy said: “EU research from 2017 found that CO2 values increased by an average of 21 per cent in cars tested under WLTP. While this is an average figure depending on the age of the vehicle, it does go some way towards illustrating the additional charges that motorists may face. Additional surcharges are also proposed which will focus on the pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOX), also proven to be harmful to both public health and the environment. These surcharges as proposed would have a big impact on motorists’ pockets.

“For years people have bought diesel as it’s always been viewed as a cheaper car to run, especially for those who drive longer distances. But people are becoming much more attuned to the reality of climate change and are recognising that sacrifices will have to be made – a sentiment illustrated by the fact that 44 per cent of our survey respondents believe that whatever is good for the environment is what should be done.”

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