Plug-in auto grant cuts: how electric vehicle buyers are affected

Daniel Fowler
October 14, 2018

The Plug-in Car Grant was introduced seven years ago to establish the market, and the DfT said it was now time to focus support on zero-emission models such as pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

CO₂ emissions of 50 to 75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles.

It said that it would support the next 35,000 electric cars sold, but did not elaborate on longer-term plans to encourage ultra-low emission vehicles.

Motoring officials have condemned the move to slash the hybrid grants with Mike Hawes from the SMMT saying it "sends yet more confusing signals to vehicle buyers".

The £2,500 grant now handed to buyers of plug-in hybrid cars will be axed from 9 November, while the grant available for fully electric cars will be cut from £4,500 to £3,500.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced the Plug-in Car Grant (PICG) scheme revision, which will now exclude new cars that emit more than 50g/km of Carbon dioxide and can't travel more than 69 miles exclusively on electric power alone.

From 12 November (and earlier if you all go out and buy a plug-in hybrid or EV), the grant for plug-ins in Category 2 and Category 3 will be scrapped altogether, and the Category 1 grant will be cut to £3,500.

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In a statement, Mitsubishi (the maker of the UK's best-selling plug-in hybrid, the Outlander PHEV) said: "As motorists seek a low-emission, fuel efficient alternative to diesel vehicles, now should be the ideal time for the Government to incentivise Plug-in hybrid technology, not pull its support".

The move has been criticised by the motoring industry, with experts warning that it could hit sales of cleaner cars.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: "We understand the pressure on the public purse, but given the importance of environmental goals it's astounding that just three months after publishing its road to zero strategy, government has reduced the incentive that gives consumers most encouragement to invest in ultra-low emission vehicles". In a statement, the transport ministry said the cuts were a reaction to falling prices for electrified vehicles, and would help the budget focus more on the cleanest vehicles now available.

Grants paid to drivers who buy non-polluting cars are to be slashed in what campaigners say is a blow to efforts to clean up Britain's roads.

"The government wants to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars, but scrapping grants for low emission cars may well stall their progress".

"Prematurely removing up-front purchase grants can have a devastating impact on demand - without world-class incentives, government's world-class ambitions will not be delivered", Mr Hawes said.

Lyes said that up-front cost was still a huge barrier for those hoping to switch to an electric vehicle - a fact underlined by the recent NFDA Consumer Attitude Survey - before describing the Government's move as "a big step backwards".

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