UK Electric Car Grants Slashed 80%? Or Not.

Image credit: Green Car Site

The new UK Government may have axed a 3rd Heathrow runway, but its green credentials are not going unquestioned. And while London EV retailer GoingGreen slammed the UK's ambitious electric car grant scheme when it was first announced, I doubt anyone, apart from the oil companies, will be celebrating at claims that that the scheme—originally slated to be worth GBP230m (US$360m) when announced under the previous Government—will now be launched with only GBP43 million (US$67m) in funds. The reduced funds represent a cut of over 80%, according to opposition groups and green campaigners. The government, however, disagrees. The original grants were intended to offer consumers up to GBP5000 off the price of a new EV, and after substantial campaigning by electric vehicle manufacturers to avoid it being scrapped under wider austerity measures, the Government has agreed to go ahead with the scheme. But, according to the Guardian, there is some confusion as to whether or not the EV grant launch will be equivalent to the original intent of the scheme:

"Following lobbying from electric car-makers, who argued abolishing the incentive would harm the cars' take-up and hit the creation of green jobs, transport secretary, Philip Hammond, today confirmed the grant will go ahead in January 2011.

"The coalition government is absolutely committed to low-carbon growth, tackling climate change and making our energy supply more secure," said Hammond. "This will ensure that the UK is a world leader in low-emission vehicles.""

But the initial funds of £43m, slated to run until March 2012 and then reviewed in January 2012, are not quite what many people were expecting. When the the original £230m scheme was first announced, there was no plan to review the scheme. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport claims that the initial round of funding is the same as would have been put forward under the original scheme.

Sadly, who you believe will just depend on which way you choose to look at the figures. It seems like another case of lies, damned lies and statistics (or in this case, accounting). But one thing is certain, as the ongoing economic crisis puts pressure on national coffers, it will be increasingly hard for politicians to justify large amounts of funding for low carbon technologies. But leaving clean technology to languish is not the answer either—with peak oil and climate change knocking on the door, a little spending now could save us a lot of heartbreak (and money!) in the future.

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