UK Plug-In Grants Expand To Vans

The UK Department for Transport began offering plug-in car grants one year ago. Drivers who use car loans or cash to purchase a qualified ultra-low emission vehicle are entitled to a grant equivalent to 25 percent of the vehicle cost, to a maximum of £5,000.

The program was recently extended to cover vans, great news for commercial enterprises.

Purchasers of electric vans are now entitled to a 20 percent discount of the vehicle price, to a maximum of £8,000. The discount applies whether cash or car finance is used to buy the vehicle. This announcement was made by Transport Minister Norman Barker on January 17. The government pledged to support the program for the duration of this Parliament.

A total of £250 million has been earmarked for this program, which has not quickly caught on with car buyers. According to the Department of Transport, only 1,052 vehicle buyers used the grants during 2011, equating to just £5.25 million.

The assumption is that the majority of electric car buyers are businesses.

Therefore, extending the grants to commercial automobiles should increase utilization this year.

Mr. Baker called the recent program expansion “great news for businesses.” He encouraged commercial van buyers to go electric due to the lower operating expenses for this type of vehicle. The government has yet to decide which electric vans will qualify for the program.

Criteria regarding emissions, safety, and range will be used to determine eligibility.

In terms of cars, plug-in hybrid, electric, and hydrogen-fuelled autos with tailpipe emissions not exceeding 75 C02/km are potentially eligible for the grant. Included in the government-approved list of eligible cars are the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Peugeot iON.

The Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall Ampera, and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid were added at the beginning of this year and the Renault Fluence ZE will join the list when it becomes available in March.