The UK government has been severely criticised for axing a £1,500 grant for motorists towards the cost buying an electric car.
The Department for Transport claimed the money would now go towards improving electric vehicle charging, much to the annoyance of industry groups who said the decision would put the brakes on electric car sales.
It follows a slashing of the grant last December £2,500 which was eligible for cars priced under £32,000. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the move sent “the wrong message”, while the RAC motoring group warned the decision could “stifle” aspirations to shift most people into electric cars.
The scheme, introduced in 2011 and now binned with immediate effect, has been used to buy almost half a million cars since then. Britain has pledged to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, the UK was “now the only major European market to have zero upfront purchase incentives for EV car buyers yet the most ambitious plans for uptake”.
He added that the decision came at the worst possible time because the sector was not yet in recovery, and all manufacturers were “about to be mandated to sell significantly more EVs than current demand indicates”.
Hawes said the government needed to compel massive investment in the charging network quickly, at a scale beyond anything so far announced, if targets were to be hit.
Nicholas Lyes, head of policy at the RAC said if upfront purchase costs remained too high, “the ambition of getting most people into electric cars will be stifled”.
AA president Edmund King said the plug-in grant had been essential for many drivers making the switch from petrol and diesel.
“The plug has been pulled at the wrong time on this important grant before many users, still waiting for delayed EVs due to global shortages, have made the change,” he said.
“With record prices at the pumps and households budgets already stretched, removing the last incentive to go electric could stall this important move to electrification.”