Thursday 26th March 2015
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The government agency OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) has announced that the plug in car grant is increasing from 1st April.  Previously, the government contributed 25% of the purchase price to qualifying plug in cars and from this date it will rise to 35%.  Sounds like great news for electric car buyers however, there is a big BUT!  The contribution will continue to be capped at £5,000 which means that the car has to retail at £20,000 for the increase to have any real effect.

Plug in car charging up

In the present electric car market only two cars would qualify for the grant; the Renault Zoe and Smart’s ForTwo ED. Even then there are issues, to buy the Zoe under £20,000 you would need to shell out monthly for leasing the battery.  For the Smart car you would need to select the ‘Sale&Care’ battery hire.  If you did decide to buy either car you would get a reduction, the entry level Zoe would be £552 cheaper and the ForTwo would be £1,000 cheaper after 1st April.

The structure of the grant will be changing and OLEV have announced that they have created three new category bands for ULEVs (Ultra Low Emission Vehicles).

  • Category 1 cars: CO2 rating below 50g/km, zero-emissions range of 70 miles or more
  • Category 2 cars:  below 50g/km and can have a shorter ZE range of 10 to 69 miles
  • Category 3 cars: emissions between 50 and 75g/km and a ZE range of at least 20 miles.

OLEV aren’t making a difference between the categories and all can qualify for a 35% grant, but OLEV is starting a consultation in May which is likely to see some future changes. Pure battery electric vehicles such as the Ford Focus Electric, standard BMW i2, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf, Kia Soul EV and Mercedes B-Class ED would fit into Category 1.  The large majority of current plug in cars would fit into Category 2, for example, the Volkswagen Golf GTE, Toyota Prius Plug-in and the Audi A3 e-tron. Category 3 is likely to include cars like the Mercedes Benz S500 Plug-in Hybrid.

Since the scheme started in 2010 more than 25,000 plug in car and plug in van grant claims have been submitted. Popularity in the UK is growing and we are ahead of France and Germany in taking up ULEVs.  More and more ULEV models are appearing in the UK car market, so far 25 car models and 7 van models meet the criteria for the plug in grant.  Over the next three years 40 ULEV models from the really big manufacturers are expected to enter the market. The fact that the cars are really cheap to run, starting from just 2p per mile, makes them more desirable.  The government’s £500 million investment is designed to assist in more models becoming available to suit a wider range of budgets and to support the industry, but it still seems to be quite limited to us.

Dr Ben Lane of Next Green Car & Zap-Map commented: "The introduction of the three Plug-in Car Grant Categories indicates a significant shift in future policy. The likelihood is that future grants will differentiate between all-electric and plug-in hybrid models with official CO2 emissions of less than 50 g/km, and PHEVs with CO2 of 50-75 g/km. Should this turn out to be the case, we would support this change as it will ensure that any future grant system will target the highest-quality electric vehicles with the lowest CO2 emissions and longest EV-only range."

Would the changes in the grant entice you to get a plug in car?