The new grants of up to £5,000 are now available for six models of car: Mitsubishi iMiEV; smart fortwo electric drive; Peugeot iON; Citroen CZero; Nissan Leaf; Tata Vista EV.

Three more models become available in early 2012: Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid; Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt.

The government is promoting the uptake of ultra-low carbon vehicle technologies and set aside around £400 million in the Spending Review for this purpose.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: “A few years ago, ultra-low emission cars with mass market appeal appeared just a pipe dream.

“Now they are a reality and we can have all the convenience of the car without all the carbon that normally goes with it.

“Government action to support affordable vehicles and more local charging points means we are on the threshold of an exciting green revolution – 2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off.”

Under the scheme, over 15,000 charging points are also being installed around the country. The recharging points will be built in public and office car parks and retail outlets.

The take up of electric vehicles by the consumer may be spurred on by the recent rises in public transport, fuel charges and the London congestion charge.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is encouraging motorists to take advantage of the economic benefits of low carbon cars.

SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, said: “With a greater focus than ever on fuel efficiency and low carbon transportation, 2011 is set to be a year in which savvy motorists choose a new vehicle that works in their favour, saving them money and delivering innovative new technology.

“New petrol and diesel engines provide astonishing mpg figures, while electric vehicles are now a reality, so buyers of new vehicles can beat rising fuel prices and taxes by clever shopping.”

The level of the Plug-In-Car Grant has been agreed until 31 March 2012 with £43 million made available up to the end of March 2012. The level will be reviewed in January 2012.

Alison Brown

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