The UK government is about to make eco cars more expensive

6d ago

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When you buy a new electric vehicle (EV) or a hybrid you get money off, thanks to the plug-in incentive given by the UK government. But not for much longer.

The Government just announced that only electric vehicles will be eligible for the subsidy as of the 12th of November, 2018, and that it will total £3,500 instead of the current £4,500 (down from the original £5,000, it should be noted).

Hybrid and plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, will no longer be eligible. That means you will have to pay full price instead of getting £2,500 towards your four-wheeled, eco-minded purchase.

The reason for the sudden abolishment, the Government explained, is because of "the recent reductions in the price of electric vehicles", which is news to us.

It also said the next 35,000 electric vehicles will be supported by the scheme, but after that it is unclear what will happen. This comes despite the recent announcement of the 'Road to Zero' initiative, which wants to reduce harmful emissions in Britain.

"[The Government] has helped the plug-in hybrid market become more established, and will now focus its support on zero-emission models like pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars," it added.

According to official figures, the scheme introduced in 2011 has helped support the sale of more than 160,000 cars.

Given the decrease in fuel duty as the number of eco vehicles increases, this is hardly surprising. But critics argue it is too soon, given that eco vehicles still only represent two per cent of all sales in the UK.

Speaking to Autocar, Mitsubishi UK boss Rob Lindley said: "The decision to suddenly end grant support for some of the greenest vehicles on the road is extremely disappointing, but as segment leader for the past four years, we are confident despite the setback that people will still see the benefits of having a 220hp all-wheel-drive SUV..."

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes, was similarly disappointed. "We understand the pressure on the public purse but, given the importance of environmental goals, it’s astounding that just three months after publishing its 'road to zero' strategy, government has reduced the incentive that gives consumers most encouragement to invest in ultra-low-emission vehicles.

"Removing the grant for plug-in hybrids is totally at odds with already challenging ambitions for CO2 reduction and sends yet more confusing signals to car buyers."

You could argue that why should the British public subsidise the purchase of vehicles by those who can afford their higher price tags, but then if the aim really was to improve local air conditions, this seems a case of one step forward and two steps back.

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