RAC Cars News


British Motorists Slow To Take Up Electric Cars

By raccars Published

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It seems British motorists are far from convinced by the virtues of electric cars, even with the incentive of government grants, as millions of pounds of grants remain outstanding. Apparently, £170 million of the government's green car subsidies could go unclaimed by 2015.

The electric car purchase assistance scheme was introduced in 2011 by Philip Hammond, the transport secretary at that time. However, uptake has been disappointing. Initially, £400 million was earmarked to distribute in grants of £5,000 for motorists buying eligible electric or hybrid vehicles by 2015. As the situation stands at the moment, by next year's deadline, only £230 million is in line to have been claimed.

Electric car sales have been increasing annually but not as quickly as the government anticipated. Subsidy claims were up by 335% in 2013, compared to the amount of grants distributed in 2011, and the number of grants claimed in January this year were at the highest figure so far, a rise of 679% on January 2013.

The Department of Transport has released figures showing that £33.5 million in electric car grants was distributed up to the end of 2013, amounting to 6,709 claims. This is much lower than the government's prediction of 8,600 claims within the first year of the scheme. A similar programme exists for purchasers of low emissions vans but this has also been less successful than expected. A grant of up to £8,000 is available to encourage the purchase of lower emissions vans but since January 2012, only 404 claims have been submitted.

Motoring organisation, the RAC Foundation, believes consumer suspicion about electric vehicles could be somewhat allayed if businesses and fleet buyers would invest. However, the good news for those who do wish to buy electric is that a substantial proportion of the grant allocation remains outstanding for their use and the price of electric cars is on a downward trend.

In a further attempt to boost electric car uptake and attempt to meet emissions targets, Nick Clegg, the UK's Deputy Prime Minister, recently confirmed that further investment would be forthcoming, including £9 million towards public charging points. A new campaign called 'Go Ultra Low' has been released with the aid of various celebrities, to encourage consumers to recognise the advantages of buying electric cars.

In the meantime, automotive manufacturers are going all out to make their electric vehicles ever more desirable and affordable, with the BMW i3 currently making great strides.

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