Government scraps plug-in car grant scheme

The government has closed the plug-in car grant scheme, an initiative that provided over £1.4bn to support the purchase of nearly half a million vehicles.

 Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

More affordable EVs and lower operating costs for owners have prompted the government to refocus its low-carbon transport priorities.

This includes £300m in grant funding towards extending plug-in grants to increase sales of plug-in taxis, motorcycles, vans trucks, and wheelchair accessible vehicles. Funding will also target an expansion of the public charging network.

Transport minister Trudy Harrison said government funding should be invested where it has the highest impact.

“Having successfully kickstarted the electric car market, we now want to use plug-in grants to match that success across other vehicle types, from taxis to delivery vans and everything in between, to help make the switch to zero emission travel cheaper and easier,” she said.


Reacting to the decision, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said scrapping the scheme ‘sends the wrong message’ to motorists and the automotive industry.

“Whilst we welcome government’s continued support for new electric van, taxi and adapted vehicle buyers, we are now the only major European market to have zero upfront purchase incentives for EV car buyers yet the most ambitious plans for uptake,” he said. “With the sector not yet in recovery, and all manufacturers about to be mandated to sell significantly more EVs than current demand indicates, this decision comes at the worst possible time.”

The plug-in car grant was launched in 2011 to help bridge the upfront price difference between ultra-low emission cars and their internal combustion engine equivalents. In the year of its launch, under 1000 fully electric cars were sold compared to 100,000 in the first five months of 2022.

Battery and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) now make up over half of all new cars sold and fully electric car sales have risen by 70 per cent in the last year, representing one in six new cars taking to UK roads.

The government previously stated that the plug-in car grant was temporary and confirmed funding would continue in decreasing amounts until 2022-23.

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