EVs Go from Strength to Strength as Car Grant Replacement is Announced

The electric vehicle (EV) market in the UK has continued to grow from strength to strength in 2015, now accounting for 1% of the total automotive industry. As such, the Plug-In Car Grant (PICG) is expected to run out within the next few months, with the government announcing a replacement scheme to take its place in early 2016.

Since its inception in 2011, the PICG has been awarded to around 43,000 electric car and plug-in hybrid owners in the UK, affording them a 25% discount on the cost of their new environmentally-conscious vehicle up to £5,000. The government announced at the outset that the grant would be restructured once the total number of allocated grants reached 50,000 or in the year 2017, whichever came first.

The EV Pace Picks Up After Slow Start

Early sluggishness to take advantage of the incentive (only 3,200 applications made in the first two years) meant that it looked like the expiration date on the offer might precede the total allocation. However, an explosion in the popularity of EVs in the last two years has seen this figure shoot up much more rapidly than predicted. Indeed, in 2015 alone, 20,992 plug-ins and EVs have been registered for the grant – that’s almost half of the total models in just 12 months.

Now, with the news that the government will re-evaluate the PICG and introduce a tiered system, the EV market in particular seems set to continue to flourish in the British Isles. Back in April, it was announced that eligible vehicles must meet a series of conditions to qualify for staggered levels of grants. Furthermore, the technology behind the manufacture of the vehicles will no longer be taken into consideration, meaning that for the first time, hydrogen-fuelled cars can become eligible. Though the full details of the amounts to be awarded for each level will be disclosed at a later date, the criteria for the categories are as follows:

Category 1 – A battery capable of driving over 70 miles and CO2 emissions under 50g/km

Category 2 – A battery capable of driving between 10 and 69 miles and CO2 emissions under 50g/km

Category 3 – A battery capable of driving a minimum of 20 miles and CO2 emissions between 50 and 75g/km.

With many of the most popular EV models capable of reaching around 100 miles and producing 0 CO2 emissions, the tiered system should not hamper the popularity of straight electric models.

Could PCIG Replacement Spell Trouble for Hybrids?

The announcement is less welcome news for plug-in hybrid cars, however, which will be required to jump through more hoops to qualify for the scheme once the 50,000 allotment has been exceeded.

For instance, the current best-seller on the UK market, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, may struggle to maintain its excellent performance once the tiered system is introduced. Managing director of the company Lance Bradley expressed his suspicion of the scheme, insisting that it would favour some makers over others and unbalance the market. “I hope the uncertainty can be solved as soon as possible. We’re keen to see a successful outcome,” he remarked.

According to cheatsheet.com, the success of the Outlander (the world’s first hybrid SUV) is the crucial difference between the flourishing market in the UK and the floundering one in the States. With the majority of American drivers still favouring larger vehicles, the availability of the Mitsubishi model in the US could make all the difference to that industry.

Why You Should Consider an EV Now

There are a multitude of reasons why purchasing an electric vehicle has become increasingly popular in the last two years – and why you yourself might want to consider buying one right now. Here are a handful of the more persuasive arguments:

  • Reduced carbon emissions. Perhaps the biggest sway in making the switch to an EV is the reduced carbon footprint it enables.
  • Reduced running costs. Charging an EV to its full 100-mile capacity typically costs between £2 and £3 – compare that to between £12 and £18 for the equivalent in petrol or diesel.
  • More choice. With 36 plug-in and hybrid vehicles available in the UK in 2015 (up from only nine in 2011) in a variety of styles (city cars, SUVs, hatchbacks, small family cars, sports coupés, small vans, medium vans, large family cars, estates and executive models), there has never been more choice for the EV consumer.
  • Increased plugin network. There are now currently 9,300 charge points across the UK, with a growing number of “rapid” plug-in locations capable of achieving an 80% charge in 30 minutes.
  • Additional financial incentives. EVs currently enjoy an exemption on the London congestion charge and are zero-rated for vehicle excise duty.
  • The imminent replacement of the PICG. While the fact that the government is continuing to demonstrate support for the EV industry with its revised scheme is positive, it will undoubtedly be looking to take a back seat with regards to subsidies in the coming years. As such, it makes sense to take advantage of the grant while you can.

Whether or not the introduction of the tiered system will affect hybrid sales in the UK remains to be seen; but even if such models become no longer eligible for a grant – or for a reduced grant – surely the manufacturers will be forced to pick up the slack by slashing prices to remain competitive.

Whatever happens, the announcement of the government’s continued support for EVs (especially in the face of criticism of recent sweeping cutbacks for subsidies on other forms of green power) can only be a good thing for the green vehicle market and for the environment in general.

This entry was posted in Vehicle News/Review on by Jonathan Sweet

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