A scheme encouraging taxi and hackney drivers to invest in electric vehicles has been allocated €15m by the Department of Transport.

Small public service vehicle (SPSV) drivers can apply for grants of €10,000 towards the purchase of a new, full-battery eSPSV, with a further €2,500 available to convert it to a wheelchair-accessible model.

Taxi drivers with an older, more polluting or high-mileage vehicle are eligible for double the normal grant. A total of €20,000 will be available for a new, fully electric SPSV and, if the taxi is a wheelchair-accessible electric vehicle, the supports rise to €25,000.

Almost 600 drivers successfully applied for grants last year, with more than €11 million paid out, as well as €4 million in provisional grant offers.

In addition to the eSPSV scheme, the Department of Transport continues to invest in the installation of SPSV-dedicated recharging infrastructure across Ireland. These are already in place at both Dublin and Cork airports and at a number of key stations on the rail network, including Dublin Heuston, Cork's Kent Station and Limerick’s Colbert station.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the electrification of the taxi fleet has been earmarked by the Department of Transport as an "important component in the transition to cleaner fuels, contributing to the achievement of our national targets under the Climate Action Plan 2021 for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the transport sector."

"More and more professional taxi drivers are voting with their wallets and making the move to EVs as an efficient, sustainable and remarkably cost-effective alternative to expensive petrol and diesel," he said.

The Electric SPSV scheme is funded by the Department of Transport and administered by the National Transport Authority.