Power me up, Scotty: electric cars get £37m supercharge

Posted on 20 Feb 2013

The Government is pumping £37 million into charging point subsidies to accelerate sales of electric cars.

“It will make the consumer environment for plug-in vehicles more attractive and, in turn, makes the UK a more compelling place to invest,” said Business Minister Michael Fallon. “There are huge business opportunities so we’re committed to ensuring the UK leads the way globally for low carbon vehicles.”

Nissan is set to start production of its all-electric Leaf model at its plant in Sunderland this year. Sales have risen sharply in the US after Nissan slashed prices but Europe has had a slower uptake with worries about the time it takes to charge.

There are just 3,000 electric cars in the UK, with most of these in company fleets. However, Mike Baunton, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders said the “Government’s investment in infrastructure for low and ultra-low carbon vehicles will help strengthen the use of this technology in the UK.”

Electric vehicles still account for less that 0.1% of light vehicle sales despite a £5,000 government grant to support uptake as it looks to cut CO2 emmissions by 80% for its self-imposed 2050 deadline.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said, “Plug-in vehicles can help the consumer by offering a good driving experience and low running costs. They can help the environment by cutting pollution. And most importantly of all, they can help the British economy by creating skilled manufacturing jobs in a market that is bound to get bigger.”

It is estimated that electric vehicles cost just a quarter of the price to run as petrol and diesel cars and although new fossil-fuelled vehicles  emit 23.7% less CO2 per kilometre than in 2000, electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions.

Up to £13.5 million will be dedicated to providing 75% grants for homeowners to install domestic chargepoints and there is an £11 million fund for local authorities in England to produce on-street charging for residents without off-street parking.

provide up to 75% of the cost of installing rapid chargepoints in their areas around the strategic road network.

There will be £9 million to fund the installation of chargepoints at railway stations.

The Government is hoping to lead by example and will review its procurement of vehicles with the aim of increasing its use of electric cars.

Sales of EVs have not lived up to manufacturers expectations so far but continued investment with Ian Simpson, lead transport partner at business advisory firm Deloitte, noting that the emergence of electric vehicles “is proving to be a slower process than many had hoped.”

However, he believes that the continuation of the vehicle grant scheme could encourage the increasing use of electric vehicles.

“We are clearly still some years away from the envisaged tipping point when electric vehicles become commonplace. This quiet revolution is one that will have to be delivered piece by piece.”