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Effectiveness of electric vehicle grants questioned

Government grants to drive the uptake of electric cars and vans are benefitting only a handful of motorists and may not be proving effective, MPs suggest.

Launching a new report from the Transport Select Committee on the Government’s plug-in vehicle strategy, committee chair Louise Ellman questioned whether the scheme was a good use of taxpayers’ cash.

She said: “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.

“So far, Department for Transport expenditure on plug-in cars – some £11 million – has benefited just a handful of motorists. We were warned of the risk that the Government is subsidising second cars for affluent households; currently plug-in cars are mostly being purchased as second cars for town driving.”

The latest figures available from the Department for Transport reveal that 1,706 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme while just 99 claims have been made through the Plug-in Van Grant scheme.

Ellman continued: “It is also unclear whether the provision of public charging infrastructure encourages demand for plug-in cars. Indeed, the Government does not even have a register of all the chargepoints installed at public expense.

“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.”

The committee is recommending that the Department for Transport (DfT) should clarify the reasons for the under spend in its low carbon vehicle programme.

As part of the next spending review, it should also set milestones for the numbers of plug-in cars it expects to see on the roads so that the success of its low carbon vehicles strategy can be assessed within that spending review period.

The committee says that the DfT needs to evaluate how effectively the provision of public infrastructure is encouraging consumer demand for plug-in vehicles.

It should make sure that vehicle owners can access chargepoints across the UK and it should also set out how it will work to remove barriers to chargepoint access across the country.

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Comments

  • Colin Tawn - 20/09/2012 22:41

    Another example of the government wasting taxpayers money.Car manufacturers do not know the current or future demands for these modified milk floats and consequently low production volumes= higher unit prices. Even with the £5k grant the present range of EV's are overpriced,small family
    runabouts.Scrap the grants and let market forces determine the demand.Then we'll see who is right, Joe Public or the Tree Huggers.

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  • Nigel Boyle - 21/09/2012 12:23

    The Government grant of £5,000 does not affect the fleet take up one bit. Even if the Government totally funded the vehicle and the fleet received the vehicles free of capital cost the take up would not change. The Fleet market is about reps and managers travelling high mileages (my fleet averages 40k a year). What good is a car that you have to stop every 30 miles and wait 2 hours for a recharge? It is time the industry and the Government accepts these cars are only City runabouts and will never be anything more. When there is a range of 300+ miles then they could become a fleet car.

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  • Andy Evans - 24/09/2012 13:44

    And the electricity for these cars comes from where? The sheer cost to manufacture and dispose of these "electric cars" has a far greater environmental impact than anything else , the people who are pushing for these said vehicle's need to give their head's a wobble and wake up ....

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