UK government pulls plug on electric car grant to focus on charging infrastructure

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The UK government has officially announced it has ended its plug-in car grant scheme whereby new EV owners benefitted from discounts off the total cost of the purchase price, an initiative that has reportedly supported the sale of half a million electric cars.

Since its inception in 2011, the government’s plug-in car grant has provided over £1.4bn to EV customers, which has been a support in the early and ongoing adoption of electric vehicles. However, the grant was never going to last. Over the years the grant has been reduced, as well as the models it would cover, and the Government themselves said it would only run until 2022-2023.

It will come as sad news for those looking to purchase an EV hoping to take advantage of significant savings, particularly as the cost of fuel reaches record highs and no signs of slowing down. Yet, to continue the government’s drive towards net zero and ensure effective use of taxpayer funds, £300 million in grant funding will now be refocused towards extending plug-in grants to boost sales of plug-in taxis, motorcycles, vans and trucks and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Mike Coulton, EV Consultant at Volkswagen Financial Services UK, explained that the decision is ‘hugely disappointing’ as many people need financial incentives to make the switch to electric an affordable option.

He said: “Whilst it should not come as a surprise to see the Government have brought to a close the Electric Vehicle Plug-In Car Grant (PICG), it is nonetheless hugely disappointing that more is not being done to encourage and support lower-income households in the transition to EVs.

“Maintaining or even increasing the PICG for the least expensive EVs to make them more affordable, and encourage manufacturers to produce electric cars at a lower price-point, could have been a strong incentive to help adoption for this sector of the market. This in turn would help to remove older and dirtier ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles in the same way that scrappage schemes have successfully done in the past.

The government will now focus its funding towards developing charging infrastructure. The shift in focus will target expanding the public chargepoint network, helping to eradicate “range anxiety” and ensure the transition to zero-emission transport is easy and convenient for all drivers across the UK. The government has already committed £1.6 billion to building the UK’s public chargepoint network.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “The government continues to invest record amounts in the transition to EVs, with £2.5 billion injected since 2020, and has set the most ambitious phase-out dates for new diesel and petrol sales of any major country. But government funding must always be invested where it has the highest impact if that success story is to continue.”

Can I still get the electric car grant?

All existing applications for the grant will continue to be honored and where a car has been sold in the two working days before the announcement, but an application for the grant from dealerships has not yet been made, the sale will also still qualify for the grant.

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