Soaring SUV sales in Ireland prompt calls from Green party for action | Ireland

Ireland’s Green party has called for measures to reduce the sale of sport utility vehicles after figures showed that two out of three cars sold in the country in 2022 were SUVs, 13 percentage points higher than the EU average.

Data provided to the Financial Times by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association showed that SUV sales as a percentage of all new cars sold were much higher in Ireland than in Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

There is increasing concern about the environmental, health and safety impact of the increasing popularity of SUVs, often large four-wheel drive vehicles that routinely weigh more than two tonnes.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said this year that, globally, SUVs produced emissions equivalent to the combined national totals of the UK and Germany.

The Green party MEP for Dublin, Ciarán Cuffe, called for new measures to limit their sales and access to town and city centres.

“Given the growth of SUV sales in Ireland, we need to take more action,” he said. “SUVs are frying the planet. As the International Energy Agency stated earlier this year, they are responsible for a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Higher taxes and duties are tempering demand, but we now need to ban the wall-to-wall advertising for such vehicles, as well as restrict their access to town and city centres.”

Ireland has one of the poorest public transport systems in Europe, with no metro in the capital, Dublin, and limited train and bus connections with towns beyond it.

One Green party member said the country’s high reliance on cars meant transport politics were seen “through the windscreen”, making it difficult to persuade drivers to change their behaviour.

The Irish government has introduced a polluter levy as part of car tax, with rates increased in 2022 for higher polluters and some large SUVs paying a rate of 41% of the value of the vehicle.

According to the Society of Irish Motor Industry, 18% of all SUVs registered this year have been electric.

The industry also points to 2023 data which shows that electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hybrids had a combined market share of car sales for the first six months of 44%.


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