UK’s plug-in van and truck grant schemes extended amid fuel price hikes

Pictured: The Movano-e. Image: Vauxhall Motors

Announcing the move today (15 March), the Department said the extension will help businesses get ahead of the curve regarding the Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel car and van sales from 2030.

Another contributing factor to the decision, the Department has stated, is the need to make the UK less reliant on foreign fossil fuel imports – particularly from Russia. The Government has pledged to end Russian oil and oil product exports by the end of the year. MPs this week heard evidence that petrol could reach £2.50 per litre and diesel £3 per litre in the coming months.

From the Government’s side of things, increasing low-emission van uptake will be important in delivering legally binding national air quality and climate targets. It will, similarly, help businesses that operate vans to comply with local net-zero plans and clean air zones.

The DfT revealed, in extending the schemes, that it received quadruple the number of applications in 2021 than it did in 2020. To date, they have supported the purchase of some 26,000 hybrid and pure electric vehicles (EVs). Going forward, for vans, only pure EVs will be supported.

“As demand for EVs continues to grow at speed, this extension to our grant scheme will allow tens of thousands more vans to be purchased, transporting goods in a way which is kinder to our environment,” said Transport Minister Trudy Harrison.

 “When it comes to clean business, this Government means business. We are backing a generation of green growth for our thriving fleet sector. 

Eligibility changes

Yet, it bears noting that the Department reduced the amount available to each claimant under the plug-in van grant scheme last December. For small vans of 2.5 tonnes or less, the maximum amount of grant available per person was reduced from £3,000 to £2,500. For larger vans, the amount was cut from £6,000 to £5,000.

There are now 19 vans on the UK market which meet the eligibility requirements.

Changes to the scheme were intended to help “make the best use of taxpayer money”, by limiting support for organisations and individuals that would be able to buy more expensive models without subsidies. Similar changes were made to the plug-in car grant scheme at the same time.

As for the truck grant scheme, from April, the threshold to claim the small truck grant of up to £16,000 will be increased from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes.

“With the increasing number of large vans on the market, the move will ensure Government targets support where it’s most needed, allowing for heavier and more costly trucks, up to 12 tonnes, to benefit from the higher grant funding,” the DfT has stated.

Reacting to the changes announced today, the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology’s transport policy manager Jacob Roberts said: “With the majority of vans being fuelled by diesel, transitioning to electric vans is essential, not only to decarbonise road transport, but to protect businesses against rising fuel costs and dependencies on imported fuels too.

“For this reason, we are delighted that the Government has committed to extend the plug-in van grant for at least two years. Combined with the expansion of funding available to support businesses to install charge points at their places of work, this will allow more businesses to access the benefits of zero-emission vans.”

45-Minute Masterclass: Electrifying your business fleet

Registration is now open for edie’s next free Masterclass, which is taking place on 29 March and will outline how businesses can integrate electric vehicles (EVs) into their fleets as they work to decarbonise.

This 45-minute online Masterclass is hosted in association with E.ON. It will take place at 1pm on Tuesday 29 March and will help businesses to formulate and deliver ambitious plans to reduce emissions from their fleets. Click here for a full agenda and to register. 

Sarah George

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