UK ends plug-in grant for electric cars

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The UK government has announced that it is closing the plug-in car grant scheme to new orders.

The scheme has helped to increase the sales of fully-electric cars from less than 1,000 in 2011 to almost 100,000 in the first five months of 2022 alone, according to the UK Department for Transport (DfT).

Battery-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles reportedly now make up more than half of all new cars sold in the UK and fully-electric car sales have reportedly risen by 70% in the last year, now representing one in six new cars joining UK roads.

However, a new public evaluation report highlighted that successive reductions in the size of the plug-in car grant, and the number of models it covers, have had little effect on rapidly accelerating sales or on the continuously growing range of models being manufactured.

The report also found that other existing price incentives such as company car tax are having more of an impact.

Due to this, the government said it is now refocusing funding toward what it believes are the main barriers to the EV transition, including public charging and supporting the purchase of other road vehicles where the switch to electric requires further development.

Thus, £300m in grant funding will now be refocused toward extending plug-in grants to boost sales of plug-in taxis, motorcycles, vans and trucks and wheelchair accessible vehicles, as announced in the autumn statement.

According to the DfT, the shift in focus will help allow government funding to target expanding the public chargepoint network, helping to eradicate ‘range anxiety’ and ensure the transition to zero-emission transport for drivers across the UK.

UK transport minister Trudy Harrison said: “The government continues to invest record amounts in the transition to EVs, with £2.5bn injected since 2020, and has set the most ambitious phase-out dates for new diesel and petrol sales of any major country. But government funding must always be invested where it has the highest impact if that success story is to continue.

“Having successfully kickstarted the electric car market, we now want to use plug-in grants to match that success across other vehicle types, from taxis to delivery vans and everything in between, to help make the switch to zero emission travel cheaper and easier.”

All existing applications for the plug-in grant will continue to be honoured and where a car has been sold in the two working days before the announcement, but an application for the grant from dealerships has not yet been made, the sale will also still qualify for the grant.

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