UK chooses to axe electric vehicle grant programs as popularity skyrockets

Credit: Tesla

Update 7:02 PM EST: 7th paragraph updated for accuracy.

Effective immediately, the United Kingdom has announced it will no longer supply EV grants for most consumer purchases.

The grant system, launched in 2011 as part of a system to kick start the EV sector in the UK, has ended for most consumers, only leaving grants available for vehicles in niche and commercial uses. These include grants for trucks, taxis, vans, motorcycles, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles that will remain in place, for now, Yahoo reports.

Luckily for consumers who have already applied for the grant, their application will be honored, meaning that only future buyers will have to worry. However, with inflation and gas prices at record highs globally, this could affect quite a large group of consumers.

The grant was launched to help make more expensive EVs more competitive with their gas counterparts, but in a press release by the Department for Transport, they believe the grant has run its course and is no longer necessary. This point of view is also relevant in a Tweet from the Dept. for Transport, who pointed at the grants as a way to “successfully kickstart the electric vehicle market.”

The release points out that sales of electric cars in the UK went from under 1,000 per year in 2011 to 100,000 cars in just the first 5 months of this year. This has happened despite the gradual reduction in grant availability and funds over the past 11 years; “successive reductions in the size of the grant, and the number of models it covers, have had little effect on rapidly accelerating sales or on the continuously growing range of models being manufactured.” Furthermore, the DfT notes that future consumers should still look forward to the many tax incentives that still exist for EVs, as well as the lower cost of ownership generally.

The press release also highlights the DfT’s new focus on charging stations. While it remains unclear if the 1.6 billion pounds set aside for charging stations will increase as a result of this reduction in grants. However, even with the new focus on infrastructure, not all are pleased by the cut in the grants. Mike Hawes, the President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told Autocar last year, “We need to move the market even faster – from one in a hundred cars on the road being electric to potentially one in three in less than eight years…”

Both the grants and the funding for charging stations are part of a larger legislative plan to remove ICE cars from sales by 2030, a plan called “The Road to Zero.” However, this lags behind the EU’s new date of 2035, and even some other European countries have aimed for 2030, including Ireland.

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UK chooses to axe electric vehicle grant programs as popularity skyrockets
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