UK Electric Car Grant System Getting Overhauled

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As most of those reading this are probably already aware, the UK has in recent years offered a quite generous grant (of up to £5000) to those purchasing “low-emissions” vehicles. That grant system has proven itself quite effective during the time that it’s been operating (since 2011) in spurring the adoption of such vehicles.

With the recent elections though, it seems that it’s now time for a change. Or an overhaul, to be more exact. Starting sometime later this year, the popular program will be replaced with a tiered system based around emissions — lower emissions resulting in higher grants/support.


The move follows a review of the program that was commissioned by the previous coalition government — which saw eligible vehicles categorized in one of three emissions categories.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Transport commented: “This Government has committed £500 million over the next 5 years to support the thriving ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) sector and there has been no change to our previously-announced position on the plug in car grant.

“All 3 categories of eligible vehicles — outlined in April — will continue to be eligible for plug in grants of up to £5,000 until 50,000 grants have been issued.”

Reportedly, over £200 million of the new funding will be earmarked for vehicles with the “lowest emissions.” Presumably, this refers to all-electric vehicles (EVs), rather than plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) or other vehicle types.


The specific grant levels that will be available under the new system have yet to be announced — so it’s hard to tell yet if buyers should hurry to pick up their EVs and PHEVs now, or if they should wait for the switch.

The recent move is expected to improve the situation in the leasing sector, where uncertainty about the future of the program has led to some friction in recent days.

“Losing the £5,000 subsidy would have a major impact on a monthly lease rental, so leasing companies need to know that their quoted price won’t be hit because the vehicle lead time extends beyond the plug-in grant’s cut-off date,” noted Gerry Keaney, the chief executive of the BVRLA, the trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector. “Registrations of ultra-low emission vehicles have taken-off in recent months and the rental and leasing industry has been leading this charge. The uncertainty surrounding the grant was threatening to hike lease prices for ULEVs and reduce their appeal to prospective customers.”

So, presumably good news for those interested in ULEVs in the UK…. Until the actual grant levels are revealed, though, a bit of cautiousness is probably warranted.


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Image Credit: © Michal Wnuk

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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