Trinity researchers to develop new tools to predict future car types in Ireland

Posted on: 29 February 2024

Trinity researchers to develop new tools to predict future car types in Ireland

New forecasting tools to predict the next generation of private vehicle fleets in Ireland will be developed by a team of economists and civil engineers in Trinity College Dublin.  

The project, called RATE, will conduct a nation-wide survey of car purchasing preferences to determine how various factors such as fuel type, vehicle size, safety and cost impact upon choice. This will assist in the development of next generation car stock models for Ireland. 

Led by Prof. Eleanor Denny, Economics, and Prof. Brian Caulfield, Civil Engineering, the new project has just received funding from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's research and development programme.  

The RATE project will provide realistic estimates of the potential growth of electric vehicles in the Irish market; estimate the associated emissions reductions; and model the changes in air quality indicators such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. 

Speaking about the project Principal Investigator Prof. Denny said: 

“This is a hugely exciting interdisciplinary project bringing together the disciplines of Behavioural Economics and Engineering to model the private vehicle landscape of the future for Ireland.  It will provide essential tools for policy makers to enable evidence-based policy making for Ireland’s future transport systems. 

“Modelling emissions in the transport sector requires vast amounts of data, and the accuracy of the modelling process is very much dependent on the quality of the base data. In 2022, it was estimated that 69% of trips in Ireland were made by private car, highlighting the importance of having an accurate car stock model. The best practice for modelling car stock combines historical data with behavioural purchasing preferences. The RATE project overcomes this gap by developing a state-of-the-art national car stock model incorporating both purchasing preferences and historical data.” 

Prof. Caulfield added:  “The 2023 Climate Action Plan aims to decrease transport emissions by 50% compared to 2018 levels. The policy uses the Avoid-Shift-Improve paradigm, and under the ‘improve’ section, it is planned to sell 845,000 private electric cars. The improve section is responsible for removing 4.74 MtCO2eq and is the largest policy tool in the transport sector, accounting for 43% of all emissions in the sector. Given the level of emissions reduction required, it is vital to have the most up-to-date tools to monitor the success of interventions and to project future trends. That is what is planned in the RATE project. 

Our research will provide policymakers in Ireland with a state-of-the-art model for predicting future car types in Ireland. The model will include the capability of examining how changing various costs and tax policies could result in a change in purchasing behavior, and ultimately examine emission reduction strategies.” 

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