Buyers urged to take advantage of electric car grants

Current incentives are set to end in March, prompting industry body to call for clarity on future discounts for electric car and plug-in hybrid buyers...

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Prospective electric car buyers are being urged to take advantage of the current UK Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) of up to £3500, which is set to expire this March.

While it is expected new incentives will be put in place, there has been no official confirmation of whether the scheme will continue unchanged or be modified.

The UK car industry has expressed its desire that a new scheme is announced as soon as possible, after being surprised in 2018 when Theresa May’s administration made the shock decision to end grants for plug-in hybrid buyers.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “What’s clear is that the Government is committed to tackling climate issues. Our industry is committed to playing its part too, but while it can supply the vehicles, it can't force demand for them. Incentives are crucial part of persuading people to make the switch.

“The markets around the world where EV sales are rising are all driven by incentives – for plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles, and we’re hoping that both will be addressed before the current incentives end in March.”

While Government sources have previously told What Car? that the removal of grants for buyers of plug-in hybrids wouldn't be reversed, Hawes said he hoped that the newly elected administration would reconsider that decision.

“In 2019, plug-in hybrid registrations fell by 17.8%, with them taking a 1.5% market share of all registrations – below that of pure electric vehicles,” said Hawes, suggesting the fall showed the impact of removing the £2500 grant previously given to buyers. Supply issues also meant many would-be buyers couldn’t buy cars as well.

“The technology is intrinsically more expensive upfront," continued Hawes, "and even in some cases when you factor in whole life costs. We need to stimulate the market. The drop is a clear warning that buyers aren't yet ready to commit unless they're incentivised.”

Car makers face huge fines at the end of 2020 if they don't hit tough new emissions targets, meaning they're in a race to register sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, raising the possibility of large discounts for buyers.

A host of new electric cars will go on sale in 2020, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Honda E, Jaguar XJ, Vauxhall Corsa-e, Volkswagen ID 3 and Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge.

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