Shot in the arm for plug-in cars

The government has agreed to extend the plug-in car grant until 2017, or until 50,000 grants have been issued, whichever comes first.
The move comes at a time when eco-friendly plug-in electric cars are gaining in popularity. Sales were up almost fourfold in 2014 to 14,498, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. True, cars that run on alternative fuel still make up only a tiny proportion of the total car sales last year of more than 2.5 million, but you can spot the trend.

Taken for granted

The plug-in car grant was introduced in 2010 to encourage more motorists to opt for a car with low or no emissions. It was scheduled to end in May 2015, so the £200m extension is welcome news for fans of alternative fuel. The term ‘plug-in’ applies to any car that can be charged by electricity. It includes electric vehicles that run solely on batteries, as well as plug-in hybrids that use a petrol or a diesel engine combined with a battery that plugs into the mains. [embed width="600" height="355"][/embed]

Green and mean

Low emissions are the big attraction of electric and plug-in cars. But low running costs widen their appeal. Some models, for example, cost as little as 2p a mile to keep on the road. The choice of cars is also getting wider. At the moment, about 25 models are eligible for the grant, including the Nissan Leaf, Vauxhall Ampera and Toyota Prius Plug-in.

Model behaviour

But the number of plug-in cars coming onto the market is growing, as the technology develops. Over the next three years, a further 40 models are expected to hit the showrooms. In other words, plug-in cars are fast becoming a credible alternative to standard vehicles. With more than 7,000 public charge points, you don’t have to worry too much about running out of power, either. The government also hopes to increase the number of charge points thanks to an injection of about £30 million of extra cash.

Five-grand gesture

The plug-in grant is worth 25% off the cost of a car, up to a maximum of £5,000. The cost is the full purchase price including number plates, vehicle excise duty and VAT. It does not, however, include any optional extras such as delivery charges. You don’t even have to put in a claim for the grant. Instead, the car dealer completes the paperwork and automatically deducts the money from the price of the car. You might be asked to fill in a short questionnaire, but it’s a small price to pay.

Van extraordinaire

Don’t forget that you can also qualify for the grant if you drive a plug-in van. The subsidy, though, is a little different at 20% off the cost of a van, up to a maximum of £8,000.

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