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Government continues investment in eco cars as consumer demand soars

The government has announced a £35-million investment to help increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles such as plug-in hybrids in the UK.

The latest injection of funding will result in ‘thousands’ more electric vehicle chargepoints throughout the UK, according to the government, making it easier for consumers to step away from the combustion engine.

£20-million of the package will be used to help councils roll out chargepoints for ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs for short), while £10-million has been set aside for adding chargepoints outside workplaces and homes where street parking is unavailable.

Another £3.75-million is being used to encourage motorists to purchase motorcycles and scooters that emit zero emissions, which will result in a discount of up to 20 per cent on an electric motorcycle or scooter. Up to a maximum discount of £1,500 will be available.

A workplace charging scheme will also get £7.5-million from the Autumn 2016, which will allow eligible private and public sector workplaces to install chargers for their staff and fleet to use.

The government took the time to announce it had purchased two brand new Nissan Leaf electric cars for the Government Car Service, adding to the four currently in use.

Transport Minister John Hayes said of his eco car initiative: “No matter what mode of transport you need ─ a scooter to get to work, a car or van to run your business ─ we are here to help you do it with zero emissions.”

“The £10-million government investment in workplace and residential chargepoints is sure to boost motorists’ confidence in electric cars and vans while accelerating uptake rates,” Go Ultra Low head Poppy Welch commented.

“While more than 90 per cent of electric car charging takes place at home, this announcement gives drivers extra options and addresses a perceived lack of accessible chargepoints,” she continued.

The adoption of eco cars has been slow in Britain but the rate is starting to pick up, encouraged, no doubt, by the continuation of a £4,500 plug-in vehicle grant available on eligible vehicles to make them more affordable.

Official figures say the number of ULEVs registered rose by 250 per cent in two years. January to September 2016 saw more registrations than the whole of 2015 ─ 28,697 electric cars compared with 28,188 last year ─ and there are three months to go.

September alone saw a record 6,113 electric car sold, equating to a 56.2 per cent year-on-year increase. Plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, saw 3,985 new registrations (up 68.5 per cent), taking the 2016 total of 20,590.

Welch added: “Looking at year-on-year growth, September was the 53rd consecutive month of registration rises in the electric car market. There are more plug-in cars on our streets than ever before.

“As more and more drivers realise the cost-saving benefits of these vehicles and the variety of models continues to expand, we expect uptake to continue its strong upward trend.”

Germany has suggested banning the combustion engine by 2030. Norway is pushing for the same result as early as 2025 – an aim a country with a high percentage of green energy power generation and a relatively low population has a greater chance of achieving.

Hayes outlined a more modest target for the UK, stating the government wants “nearly all cars and vans to be zero emission by 2050”.

With the VED changes looming in 2017, clueless motorists may find themselves paying hundreds of pounds a year extra in car tax. Even the most eco-friendly cars will be subjected to some form of payment. Currently, cars below 75g/km of CO2 emissions can enjoy total exemption.

Knowing electric cars are starting to gain traction, we are beginning to wonder exactly how and when the government will tax those who charge their car using electricity at home because the loss of revenues from petrol and diesel taxation will have to come from somewhere, will it not?

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