Buyers of some electric cars will be given up to £5,000 ($7,800) towards their purchase. With its new £43M plan to encourage people to drive electric and low-carbon cars, the government has announced that buyers of 9 models of cars will be rewarded with a subsidy worth a quarter of the price of the car, in some cases.
The winners are: the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Smart fortwo electric drive, the Peugeot iON, the Citroën CZero, the Nissan Leaf, the Tata Vista EV, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, the Vauxhall Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt.
Photo: B. Alter
The launches of the other models are spread over the rest of 2011 and into 2012. The Nissan Leaf and Tata Vista will then follow in March, while the Citroen CZero is confirmed for "early 2011". The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Vauxhall Ampera (which will also be sold - with some modifications - as the Chevrolet Volt) will be available in 2012.
It is not perfect however, since Peugeot only expects to ship 350 cars here next year, of which only a few will be available to private buyers. The rest are to be leased to local government. As for the Smart, only about 100 of them are expected to be shipped to Britain. The Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera, all retain small gas engines to boost range, which may be controversial given that they are not purely electric.
Industry experts warn that the subsidy, which translates to about 8,600 cars, is unlikely to have a major impact on Britain's car fleet. Britain has 28 million cars on the road. But it is a great signal that the UK is open for business in this area.
To back it up, the government is also investing in infrastructure to support the electrics. They will be providing funding in the Midlands, Greater Manchester, East of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland for local charging points. It is hoped a total of 4,000 charging points will be created over the next 18 months.
More on Electric Cars
Test Driving the New Electric Smart
Mitsubishi's Electric Car in UK
Peugeot's ion Electric Car