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Better plug-in strategy needed

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By Matthew Walters, head of consultancy and customer data services at LeasePlan

The Government has announced it is scrapping category two and three grants for new plug-in hybrids, while simultaneously reducing the category one grants by £1,000 – to just £3,500.

Yet again, we are seeing a haphazard approach from legislators as we drive down the road to zero.

The news is a bit of a double-edged sword for the industry – and it can be difficult not just to focus on the negatives.

The good news is the scheme is being extended, not scrapped, which is vital in encouraging more drivers to make the switch to electric.

We are seeing an increased uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and incentives such as the category one scheme will only continue to inspire more to drive cleaner vehicles.

This scheme has almost been a victim of its own success (and behaviour change now needs focusing on purely EV driving) but shows the Government is taking the road to zero seriously.

However, issues remain. To start with, the short notice given before this change implies the Government has little regard for those it will affect most – leasing companies, manufacturers, vendors and drivers.

It puts us severely on the back foot with regard to recalibrating how these vehicles are marketed.

It has also been made clear that this is a transitional fund – not a permanent one – and once the pot is empty the grant will cease.

The Government has grossly underestimated the level of money needed to support the grant, with the pot running dry rapidly – a week after the announcement.

What the Government needs to do is work more closely with the motor industry to create a strategy that works. For example, the issue of supply and demand remains.

It’s right that early adopters are rewarded for going green, but the Government also needs to put more pressure on manufacturers to ensure there is a steady supply of readily available ULEV vehicles.

Currently, there is not enough – hardly any LCVs are available and electric car models are not as abundant as their combustion engine alternatives. This needs to change.

Click here for electric cars and hybrids best practice and procurement insight

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