25TH JULY, 2022

E-scooters: The latest in green machine innovation or just a bit of a pest?

Since they were launched onto the market a few years ago, e-scooters have been a topic of some controversy. So what why are feelings so mixed? Here we take a look.

What is an e-scooter exactly?

The first thing to point out is we’re not talking children’s toys here, even though they look similar.

Adult electric scooters are the most commonly-found e-scooters available to buy in Ireland. They’re different from electric scooters made for children in that they can support more weight (generally around 100 kg or 220 lbs), have larger batteries, more powerful motors, a taller stem and a bigger deck to stand on.

What’s so great about e-scooters?

The first thing is they’re much more environmentally friendly than pretty much any other form of transport. Over the last year, app-shared electric scooters have been popping up in cities across the world, particularly where there’s limited space for cars. Younger people in particular are also rightly conscious of the battle against climate change, and with the cost of petrol and diesel skyrocketing too, many are looking for an alternative.

In theory, e-scooters offer exactly this. An on-demand, convenient way to access transportation that’s cheap and reliable. And of course, as e-scooters run on electricity, they’re far less polluting than traditional fossil fuels.

E-scooters are popular in Ireland because as urban transport goes, they’re not only eco-friendly but also easy to park just about anywhere. They also benefit people who are looking for a more active, healthy lifestyle.

The fact is that cities are congested and can often take a long time to get around, even on foot. Electric scooters offer a green solution that’s not only fast and portable but, with proper use, are safe too.

On our daily commute to the shops, school and work, many of us will already have come across e-scooters throughout many Irish towns and villages. For those who don’t want to buy their own e-scooter, the mobile apps that rent them out are now spreading to a range of geographical locations, making them even more accessible.

E-scooters are quiet too

When we think of scooters, the loud whine of riders racing each other round the roads may come to mind. But because e-scooters are battery-powered they’re extremely quiet like electric cars. In fact, this is partly what’s causing the problem; people are using e-scooters on the pavement and accidentally knocking into people who can’t hear them coming.

Are e-scooters actually legal in Ireland?

They are, however there’s not much regulation around them. But back in October 2021, the Irish government approved a new Road Traffic Bill which, for the first time, sets out legislation for e-scooters and e-bike riding on Ireland’s roads.

This isn’t a big free-for-all though. Local authorities are being given the power to set their own speed limits on particular roads - typically 20km/h. However, some groups are now campaigning for the speed limit to be lowered to 12km/h.

The legislation also lays out strict rules around licensing, anti-social off-road use and more.

So why do some people not like e-scooters?

The primary worry for some individuals is safety. Many feel that e-scooters ridden on the pavement are inherently hazardous to pedestrians, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable. This is spurring manufacturers on to innovate ways to make them safer, for example limiting engine capacity.

Riding in a city can also be potentially dangerous. Cars come at you from all angles, the streets can be narrow and your senses are bombarded with sights and sounds. This makes it really easy to get distracted, potentially leading to an accident.

For some people, e-scooters are just a nuisance. Whilst many riders are responsible and considerate, some are not. Having a rider buzzing around you on a narrow pavement isn’t much fun, and can even be distressing for those with sight or hearing issues or autism.

Trialling new innovative e-scooter technologies in Dublin

Micromobility operator TIER is currently working on a pilot e-scooter scheme for staff and students at five different Dublin City University campuses.

Coordinated by Smart DCU and the Irish research centre for data analytics Insight, the pilot is currently testing 30 TIER e-scooters using artificial intelligence models and Luna computer vision technology. It is expected to conclude by around spring 2022.

The technology can calculate the type of surface it’s being ridden on, from pavements to footpaths, allowing it to better detect pedestrians.

Benjamin Bell, Tier’s director of public policy for northern Europe said: “We are confident that - with this strong legislation approved by Cabinet - we are one step closer to not only legally having e-scooters in Ireland, but also ensuring the country has one of the safest e-scooter regimes in Europe.”

“We look forward to seeing this go to the Oireachtas and hopefully allowing for safe, legal e-scooter usage on our roads”, he added.

Has your company been working on the technology behind e-scooters?

If so, it could well be eligible for thousands of euros back from Revenue in the form of R&D Tax Credits.

The R&D Tax Credit scheme is a generous tax-based incentive that’s designed to encourage company innovation in Ireland. It works by administering a credit worth up to 25% of the company’s R&D expenditure, either against their Corporation Tax bill or in cash. The 25% credit is given in addition to the 12.5% Corporation Tax deduction at the standard rate, so effectively 37.5% of eligible R&D costs can be claimed back.

And the best bit? All companies based in Ireland who are registered for Corporation Tax can apply – regardless of size or sector.

Average R&D Tax Credit claims are now topping €60,000. Can your company afford to miss out?

Find out more or make a claim using the Tax Cloud portal

There’s a wealth of information available here on our website or why not try our Tax Cloud calculator so see what you could claim.

You can also call our R&D tax experts on +353 1 566 2001 or drop us a message.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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