Transport Minister Norman Baker and Business Minister Mark Prisk also confirmed the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant, launched last year, has secured funding until 2015. Lower than expected sales of electric and hybrid cars last year had led to speculation the grant might be scrapped this year.
The Plug-In Car Grant offers 25 per cent, or up to £5000, to motorists buying a new green car. Under the Plug-in Van Grant, van buyers will now receive 20 per cent, or up to £8000, off the cost of an eligible vehicle. The DfT said manufacturers that wanted to be part of the scheme could apply from today.
“Car buyers have had a year to take advantage of our grant and now it’s time for van buyers to get their chance to go electric,” said Baker. “This is great news for businesses given the lower running costs of these vehicles – fleet buyers tell us that this is one of the most important factor influencing their decision on what to buy.”
“Supporting ultra-low carbon technology in vans makes sense. An upfront purchase grant, when combined with lower running costs and tax benefits, can make switching to an ultra-low carbon van an attractive choice for businesses,” added Prisk. “The technology also fits well with a large portion of the van market that rely on short urban trips to and from base.”
The Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT), which has been lobbying the DfT to extend the Plug-in Car Grant to electric commercial vehicles, welcomed today’s announcement.
“The Plug-In Car Grant and the new Plug-In Van Grant send a strong signal to the global automotive industry about the UK’s determination to be a leading market for ultra-low carbon vehicles,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “We will reap significant industrial and environmental benefits from establishing an early and flourishing ultra-low carbon vehicle market, attracting high value investment in R&D, innovation and automotive manufacturing.”
Only vans that meet strict criteria on range, tailpipe emissions and safety will be able to apply for the Plug-in Van Grant. Eligible vans will have to show they emit less than 75 grammes of CO2 per kilometre, are capable of at least 60 miles between charges (10 miles in electric mode for hybrid vans), can do speeds of more than 50 mile per hour, and – to ensure safety – be approved by ‘European Vehicle Type Approval’.
There are currently 10 cars eligible for the Plug-In Car Grant, including the Nissan LEAF and the Vauxhall Ampera. By the end of the last year over 1000 eligible vehicles had registered for the grant.
Sales of electric commercial vehicles are still much lower than for electric cars, however, because most are still being trialled and are in limited production, but more are expected to launch onto the market this year, including the Renault Kangoo.
The DfT said manufacturers could apply to be part of the Plug-in Van Grant up to January 31. It expects to confirm shortly afterwards which will be the first vans to join the scheme.