Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond confirmed today that car buyers will receive up to £5,000 towards the purchase of ultra-low carbon vehicles (i.e. full electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles) from January 2011. To be eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant, vehicles must meet certain safety and performance criteria defined by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
This is good news for the environment and the economy.
Grid-connected electric vehicles emit much less CO2 – up to 40% – than the average conventional internal combustion engine vehicle on a lifecycle basis, even when based on today’s energy mix with only around 20% near CO2-free sources. This will only improve as the UK increases the share of renewables as mandated by EU legislation. (And for all the climate change sceptics: electric vehicles emit no local air pollutants so at least we will not choke to death whilst trying to save the planet.)
Better still the grant will make the UK an attractive market for vehicle manufacturers, which means they will invest in ‘green’ jobs by setting up manufacturing plants and focusing their activity in this country. Giving incentives now will pave the way for a mass market in the future.
But there is a caveat to all this. The previous Labour government had committed £230 milli0n to the scheme, but the current coalition says only £43 million will be made available up to the end of march 2012. After that the scheme will be reviewed again taking into consideration such things as the costs of vehicles and the development of the early market.