The Government has announced an extension to the plug-in car grant, backed by a £400 million package which will aim to treble the number of ultra-low emission vehicles on Britain’s roads.
Previously the grant was extended to February next year, but this latest announcement is expected to boost the uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles for the foreseeable future. Announcing the plan, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said the extension would mean more than 100,000 extra people would gain access to the fund.
"We are determined to keep Britain at the forefront of the technology," he commented "increasing our support for plug-in vehicles to £600 million over the next 5 years to cut emissions, create jobs and support our cutting-edge industries.”
From March 2016, the grant will be split into two categories. Cars with a zero-emissions range of over 70 miles, dubbed Category 1, can receive a grant of £4500. Cars with a shorter zero-emissions range, dubbed Category 2 and 3, will receive £2500. Most plug-in hybrids will fall into Category 2 and 3.
From 1 March 2016, 2 grant rates will be available. ‘Category 1’ vehicles will benefit from a grant of £4500 – providing they have zero emission range of over 70 miles. ‘Category 2 and 3’ vehicles with a shorter zero emission range — such as plug-in hybrid vehicles with a petrol or diesel engine — will receive a lower amount of £2500. This will ensure the funding is sustainable, balanced and will drive financial support to the greenest vehicles.
A price cap is also be introduced, with Category 2 and 3 vehicles costing over £60,000 being ineligible for the grant.
First introduced in 2011 the plug-in vehicles grant was designed to encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in the UK. Since its introduction, around 50,000 people have taken advantage of the grant since with the choice of available ULEVs in the UK growing five-fold.
Some infrastructure will also benefit. The government has also said it will also help ULEV owners to install a charging point at home. From March 2016, owners can apply for a £500 grant to help cover the installation cost. The continued funding is part of long-term measures to make almost all vehicles in the UK emissions free by 2050.
Demand is likely to be high is previous statistics are anything to go by. In the first five months of 2015, the number of electric cars sold in the UK and eligible for the (then) £5,000 grant jumped to 11,842 – four times the number that quietly purred away from forecourts over the same period in 2014.
Other European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and France also offer grants for electric cars with Norway’s uptake now ensuring that one in every 5 cars is an EV.