Charging forward: how shared EVs can drive us toward transport goals

As electric vehicles play an increasing role in plans to meet Ireland’s future transport needs, a wider modal shift is taking shape

Brendan Grieve, chair, Mobility Partnership Ireland (MPI) and members. High upfront costs are among the reasons EV uptake is slow, but rental car clubs greatly allay this. Picture: Conor McCabe

Electric vehicles (EVs) have certainly caught the attention of both the public and policymakers, but 2024 has seen the first-ever drop in sales. Whether driven by cost or a simple result of coming down from high sales in 2023, a shift to EVs is nevertheless seen as a crucial component of meeting Ireland’s climate goals.

Company Details

Mobility Partnership Ireland (MPI)

Year founded: 2021

Number of staff: MPI is a coalition of eight partner companies who directly employ over 350 staff

Why it is in the news: MPI wants to see shared transport bridge the gap between public transport and private vehicles

Mobility Partnership Ireland (MPI), a coalition of companies, including MOBY, Bleeper, Enterprise Mobility, GoCar, Toyota Yukõ, FreeNow, Aircoach, and Payzone, each operating in the shared transport sector, thinks the gap can be bridged.

Brendan Grieve, MPI’s chair, said that the organisation’s mission is to provide leadership and innovative solutions to enhance Ireland’s future mobility.

“As MPI members, partners gain access to valuable benefits, including industry expertise, shared insights, and practical solutions. By collaborating as a single entity on policy recommendations, MPI has the potential to position Ireland as a global leader in sustainable shared mobility, benefiting commuters, businesses, and the environment alike,” he said.

Active transport, particularly as a part of multi-modal transport involving public transport, is a key component, and MPI’s members include shared e-bike providers.

“Shared bikes, offered by our members, Bleeper and MOBY, are pivotal in shaping sustainable and efficient personal mobility now and in the future,” Grieve said.

Shared bikes, he said, when integrated into transport infrastructure, address a number of important objectives. Firstly, they are convenient for commuters, which encourages people to choose sustainable modes of transport for short distances. This causes a reduction in private cars on the road, he said, resulting in smoother traffic flow and less gridlock in urban areas.

More needs to be done by Government to assist shared transport providers to service the public, particularly those operating in rural area

Finally, he said, as both residents and visitors can easily access bikes for leisure, commuting, or running errands, urban living is made more convenient and enjoyable.

However, MPI wants to see some support in the form of a reduction in VAT rates in order to encourage use.

“Currently, Ireland has a standard VAT rate of 23 per cent and two reduced rates of 13.5 per cent and 9 per cent. To encourage the modal shift, the VAT rate for shared bikes, which is currently at between 13.5 per cent to 23 per cent, should be simplified and reduced to 9 per cent,” Grieve said.

The benefits, he said, would be wider than just an increase in the transport options available to the public.

“By doing this, this would send a clear signal of support from government for active travel as well as contributing to Ireland’s climate action targets. The net impact will be reduced emissions, less congestion, affordable travel and the population leading healthy lives.”

When it comes to EVs, however, high up-front costs and gaps in the charging network are generally thought to be slowing adoption.

However, shared mobility operators can help, by collaborating with public transport agencies to bridge gaps in the existing public transport network, offering whole-of-journey or first-mile and last-mile solutions, Grieve said.

“Rental car clubs like Enterprise, GoCar, and Yuko contribute to this effort by providing affordable access to zero-emissions transport through shared electric vehicles, giving users a taste of driving an EV,” he said.

However, MPI takes the view that more needs to be done by the government to assist shared transport providers to service the public, particularly those operating in rural areas.

“The delayed rollout of EV charging infrastructure poses a challenge for shared mobility providers, which hinders the expansion of shared mobility fleets. With a very dispersed population, these challenges are further amplified for outlying rural areas and need to be addressed to fully integrate electric alternatives into shared transport services,” said Grieve.