Sunday September 25th, 2011 02:20 Government Grant Fails to Encourage Car Buyers to go Electric

 

New data from the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggests that sales of electric cars in the UK are progressing at a rate significantly lower than had been anticipated. To date, only 812 battery models have been bought in the UK in 2011. This is in spite of the incentive of a £5,000 government grant for each buyer of a fully electric or plug-in hybrid car.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular electric car is the Nissan Leaf, with 499 cars being sold. The figures from the SMMT are much bleaker for the other five electric car models currently available in the UK, with none of them managing to sell even a quarter of the Nissan Leaf’s figure.

At a cost of £230 million, the £5,000 subsidy for plug-in cars was initially conceived by the previous Labour government to try and cut the upfront cost of electric vehicles for buyers. Although cheaper to run than a conventional car, the upfront cost of an electric car is typically at least a third more.

The subsidy managed to survive the current coalition government’s swinging cuts, although its funding has only been guaranteed for the first year. With sales of electric cars at such a low rate, there is little chance that the £43 million set aside for this year – the equivalent of 8,600 cars being sold – will be reached.

The poor sales of electric cars in the UK stand in marked contrast to sales of new cars in general. SMMT’s figures show that registrations of new cars in August were up by over 7%.

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