Every electric car eligible for the Government's £2500 plug-in car grant
Cars costing more than £35,000 are no longer eligible for the Government's plug-in car grant, but that still leaves 29 fully electric models that are...
Since 2011, the UK Government has offered a grant to help with the cost of buying an electric car, but it was recently reduced from £3000 to £2500 and the upper price limit for eligible vehicles cut from £50,000 to £35,000.
That means some standout models – including our reigning Large Electric Car of the Year, the Tesla Model 3 – no longer qualify. There are still plenty of exciting electric cars that do, though, including some that have only just gone on sale.
Here we take a look at all 29 options and reveal which ones are worth considering. If any of them take your fancy, just use the relevant link to read our full review, or see how much you could save by using the free What Car? New Car Buying service.
If ever a car was born for urban driving, it’s the new electric Fiat 500. It’s shorter than key rivals, so it fits into spaces they don’t, while a tight turning circle, ultra-light steering and excellent visibility make it very easy to drive and manoeuvre. Just make sure you go for a version with the larger 42kWh battery if you want it to be suitable for longer journeys.
Similarly brilliant to its hard-top sibling, the Fiat 500 Cabrio won our Convertible of the Year award back in January – the first purely electric car to do so. Unlike its closest rival, the petrol-powered Mini Convertible, the 500 Cabrio doesn’t shudder or shake along bumpy roads. Just bear in mind that it carries a hefty price premium over the hard-top model: £2650 in our favoured Icon trim.
Charming bulldog-like looks are backed up by a class-leading driving experience in the Honda E. It blends swift acceleration with agile, entertaining handling. Sadly, an assault of screens controlled by labyrinthine software hurts the interior experience, while the boot is tiny and the range between charges disappointing.
Like the Honda E, the Mini Electric offers zippy performance and a retro aesthetic inside and out. However, it’s even less practical (you can’t have it with rear doors for starters) and the range is similarly measly, so it’s very much a second car.
If you don’t want to shout about going electric, the e-208 could be just the thing – only the badging distinguishes it from its handsome internal combustion-engined counterparts. You get a comfortable ride and impressive refinement, while the quality of the interior shines through thanks to minimal use of scratchy plastics. Short drivers beware, though: the abnormally small steering wheel blocks the instruments in some seating positions.
Key to the Renault Zoe’s appeal is its range compared with rivals: officially between 238 and 245 miles depending on your motor of choice. Higher trim levels make these extra miles especially pleasant, delivering an elegant interior and punchy performance. Only a choppy ride and disappointing level of standard safety equipment give the e-208 the edge.
Can the open-to-the-elements, pocket-sized Renault Twizy really be described as a car? It tops out at 50mph and will only manage around 40 miles before the battery runs flat. The 6.8-metre turning circle is great in the city but it can only be charged with a three-pin domestic plug sockets – something that’ll become a challenge if you live in a flat, as many city dwellers do. Still, it’s preferable to walking, and probably safer than a motorcycle.
Seat Mii Electric
As inconspicuous as the e-208, the Mii Electric provides a remarkably cheap route into electric motoring, plus it rides comfortably and steers effortlessly. However, a 161-mile range and slow acceleration at higher speeds mean that it disappoints outside the city, plus it only seats four people.
The prototypical city car should lend itself well to electrification, but Smart’s execution is likely to leave you disappointed. Good acceleration at low speeds is marred by a bumpy ride and excessive noise, especially in the Cabrio. Cumbersome infotainment undermines the solid construction of the interior, while wheezy performance on faster roads and a 59-mile range in real-world testing further limit the Fortwo’s appeal. That said, no other car is quite as easy to park.
Smart Forfour EQ
The Forfour EQ is the physical manifestation of range anxiety, managing just 57 miles in our Real Range test. The ride jostles you around, too, and as you pick up speed there’s enough road roar to make you think you’re taxiing a 747. True, a tight turning circle and low cost make it serviceable as a city runabout, but if you want that, why not get the cheaper and more manoeuvrable Fortwo instead, given that the extra seats of the Fourfour are extremely cramped?
Despite being closely related to the Peugeot e-208, the Corsa-e has its own distinct character. For starters, the normal sized steering wheel doesn’t block the instruments in the way that the 208’s can, plus the Corsa sacrifices a bit of comfort for slightly sharper handling. It’s nowhere near as classy as the 208 inside, though.
Effectively the same car as the Seat Mii Electric, the e-Up is a decent option for zipping around town. The range, acceleration and seating concerns from the Mii Electric go unresolved in the e-Up, though, and at £755 more than the Mii Electric, you have to question why you wouldn’t just buy one of those instead.