UK government incentives for electric vehicles not working

Posted at September 22, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UK government incentives for electric vehicles not working

 The UK government’s incentive scheme for electric vehicles is not working and demand remains low, warned a report from the Transport Select Committee earlier this week.

The report says that the government’s £11 million budget for Plug-In Vehicle grant scheme, which gives purchasers of ultralow carbon cars up to £5000, is only benefitting a handful of motorists.

The scheme, warns the Committee, is effectively subsidising second cars for affluent households using them for town driving.

“Carbon emissions from transport must be reduced if the UK is to meet its climate change targets, but public money must be targeted on effective policies,” points out Committee chair Louise Ellman. “The government must do more to show that its plug-in vehicle strategy is a good use of public money.”

The Committee wants to see the government set milestones for the number of plug-in vehicles on the road so that its strategy can be judged.

The report also calls on the Department for Transport (DfT), which does not apparently even have a directory of charging points installed at public expense, evaluate how a public charging infrastructure is encouraging demand for electric vehicles.

A comprehensive registry of charging points installed under the Plugged-In Places scheme should also compiled over the next six months and added to the national registry, so that the DfT can ensure that drivers have access to the entire network.

“Ministers should not sit back and hope that the Government’s policy on plug-in cars will reduce transport carbon emissions. Far more work is required to ensure that this programme is a good use of public funds,” says Ellman.

The strong criticism of the government’s efforts has been endorsed by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

“The government needs to radically rethink its Plug-in vehicle policy, which isn’t working,” says chief executive John Lewis. “Nearly two-years on from the launch of this policy, we have a huge underspend and just a trickle of plug-in vehicle sales.”

Instead of the £5000 grant for new purchases, the BVRLA suggest a reduction or exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty for the life of the vehicle, financial help to install home charging points, parking fee exemptions and lower rates of company car tax.

However, the government maintains that electric vehicle sales are moving in the right direction and will accelerate as more models come onto the market.

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Related stories:
UK low emission vehicle sales start to accelerate (14-Sept)
One million ‘turned on’ to electric vehicles, says Nissan (26-Jun)
UK new car emissions fall by 4.2% in 2011 (18-Apr)
UK take-up of electric cars reaches just over 1000 in 2011 (9-Jan)

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