Brexit Tariffs Hurting Used EV Trade In Ireland

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New import charges not only threaten small businesses, but also Ireland’s climate ambitions

The new tariffs on car imports in the wake of Brexit are threatening Irish businesses, and are likely to have major implications for meeting the nation’s climate change targets.

Since 1st January 2021, imported vehicles from Britain have been subject to new procedures and fees, including a customs duty of 10% on most vehicles, with the prospect of a VAT payment of 21% as well. VRT is also payable on top of these additional charges, depending on the emissions of the vehicle.

One of those affected by the new regulations is Simon Acton. His business, NextEcoCar, has been importing electric and low-emissions vehicles into Ireland since 2017 and has relied on the wide-range of used electric cars in the UK to meet growing demand in Ireland.

However, the additional costs and bureaucracy around car imports post-Brexit is threatening his livelihood.

Mr Acton, who is also the Chairman of the Irish EV Owners Association, said: “We are calling for clarity on these new regulations, as advice from the Revenue has been inconsistent and it is not clear how long these tariffs will be in place and exactly which vehicles they apply to.”

“These additional fees are threatening many businesses in Ireland, but also mean that second-hand electric cars are less affordable than they would have been just a month ago – which has major implications for people who want to drive more sustainable vehicles.

The Irish government has set a target to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 in order to meet its emissions targets, with the transport sector currently accounting for 20% of the nation’s emissions according to the CIE.

Tom Spencer, Editor of consumer advice site IrishEVs, said: “Having access to a wide range of affordable second-hand electric cars is essential to help Ireland address the Climate Crisis and reduce our reliance on highly polluting diesel vehicles.”

“As very late adopters of electric vehicles, Ireland is reliant on imports to meet this demand for those who cannot afford a brand new EV – and, due to Ireland’s need for right-hand drive vehicles, these can only come from the UK. It is essential that we have clarity on the import tariff issue, and we hope to see the Irish government incentivise the import of zero-emissions vehicles in line with their climate commitments.”

Despite the harsh economic climate caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, electric vehicle sales rose by 16% in 2020 compared to the previous year, bucking the overall car-buying trend, which saw the sale of new vehicles in Ireland fall by 25%.

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