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Cuts to electric car grants criticised

Written by Hannah McGrath
12/10/2018

Motoring groups have criticised a government move to cut grants for new electric and hybrid cars, branding it a "step backwards" on the road to greener transport.

The RAC and AA raised concerns after the Department for Transport announced plans to change the cash incentives offered to motorists to help them to choose more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The Plug-in Car Grant scheme, which divides vehicles into three categories according to their CO2 emissions and zeo-emissions range has been in place since 2011.

The government claims it has supported the purchase of 160,000 new cleaner energy cars.

Now, the government has announced that it is to reduce the number of models eligible and cut grants as of 12 November, as it shifts its support to zero-emmission and pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Under the current grant scheme, category one cars, which are top rated for their green credentials, allow buyers to claim up to £4,500 towards their purchase of the vehicle.
£2,500 is available for category two and three cars, which meet less stringent emissions targets.

The new scheme will see category one grants cut by £1,000 to £3,500. Category 2 and 3 vehicles will no longer be eligible for any grants.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said the funding cut was a “major blow” to anyone hoping to go green with their next vehicle choice and said it made “little sense when we need to focus our efforts on lowering emissions from vehicles.”

He added: “Some popular zero emission capable plug-in hybrid models will lose their plug-in car grant altogether.

“With up-front costs still a huge barrier for those hoping to switch to an electric vehicle, this move from the Government is a big step backwards and is in stark contrast to countries like Norway where generous tax incentives have meant that it has one of the highest ownership levels of ultra-low emission vehicles of anywhere in the world.”

Earlier this year, the government published its Road to Zero electric vehicles strategy, which included proposals to phase out petrol and diesel cards from UK roads by 2050.