Plug-in car grant extended to 2018

Grants to subsidise the purchase of electric and other low-emission cars are to be extended by at least two years, to encourage more than 100,000 UK motorists to buy greener vehicles.

The plug-in car grant, which gives buyers up to £4,500 towards the cleanest new cars, will now run until March 2018, the Department for Transport announced on Thursday.

The extension, which will bring the total funding to £400m, will boost the UK’s rapidly growing electric vehicle market and make some contribution towards improving air quality.

The announcement came as the government faced criticism from environmental groups for the pace of its plan for compliance with EU legal limits for NOx emissions, which are mainly caused by road transport.

The grant, introduced in 2011 and due to expire in early 2016, has already seen about 50,000 low emission vehicles – mainly electric but also hybrid and hydrogen powered – sold at a substantial discount to consumers, and the extension should treble the numbers of such cars on Britain’s roads. The revised grant scheme will focus inducements on zero-emissions vehicles and no longer subsidise the most expensive hybrids.

Manufacturers welcomed the news. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Manufacturers are offering increasing numbers of these vehicles – but a consistently applied incentive regime is still needed over the coming years to help consumers adopt these ground-breaking technologies.

“The changes to the regime will need effective management and SMMT looks forward to working with government to ensure the planning needs of manufacturers and consumers – both fleet and private – are met.”

Jim Wright, managing director of Nissan GB, which has invested £420m in developing its best-selling electric car, the Leaf, said: “This announcement, together with ongoing infrastructure developments, should see the growth and wider deployment of this technology continue.”

A further £500 grant will be available from March for owners of ultra-low emission vehicles who install a dedicated charge point at their home, covering roughly half the average cost.

The transport minister, Andrew Jones, said: “We are determined to keep Britain at the forefront of the technology, increasing our support for plug-in vehicles to £600m over the next five years to cut emissions, create jobs and support our cutting-edge industries.”

Vehicles with a zero-emission range of more than 70 miles, including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, will get a full £4,500 grant, but hybrids costing under £60,000 will receive £2,500.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “It’s good news that they’ve extended the grant but it’s not nearly enough. There is no proper road map to get us to where we need to be in terms of ultra-low emission vehicles.”

Gywn Topham

This article first appeared on the Guardian

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