Even free money can’t tempt people to buy electric cars

20 September 2012

kids-electric-carDespite the fact that we are all skint, the Government would still like us all to be a bit greener. They are still touting loft insulation and smart electricity meter schemes, and since January 2011, if you buy an electric car, they will give you free money towards the purchase price.

However, even with  25% of the purchase price (up to a maximum of £5,000) paid by the Government, sales of electric cars have not been as sparky as had been hoped. With a reported pot of £30million available for electric-car-bungs, latest Department for Transport figures to June say that only 1,706 claims have been made. Good job they invested all that money in creating a network of plug points for this new swathe of electric vehicles then.

What’s worse, the Government- who are in no way biased towards the wealthy- are now being accused of inventing yet another scheme that only benefits the upper middle class and well-off, looking for a fashionably environmentally-conscious second (or third) car. After all, who else can afford one? Examples are the Vauxhall Ampera and the Nissan Leaf, which cost £28,995 and £25,995 respectively, both figures quoted AFTER the £5,000 grant.

A report by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee has now said that these grants are “subsidising second cars for affluent households”, highlighting the fact that in addition to the money paid out in grants, “the Government appears to have spent £11million on providing infrastructure that currently benefits only a handful of vehicle owners.” Coincidentally, the committee was chaired by an opposition MP.

However, transport minister Norman Baker refuted the suggestion, saying “It is categorically not the case that this grant is only for rich families wanting a second car,” claiming 75 per cent of purchases made under the plug-in car grants have been by businesses wanting to reduce pollution and running costs. Of course, he would say that.

In 2011 there were only 1,052 vehicles eligible for the ‘plug-in car grant’  registered, although this year’s figures do show a slight increase predicted for the year, with 989 cars sold up to the end of August. It could be a while before the roads are overrun though.

So would you buy an electric car? What would the grant have to be to tempt you? £25,000?


  • Darren
    looked like a boring story, so just read the first line. talk for your self, but I am not skint, I am spending like mad at the mo! get your facts right!
  • Milky
    the £6 grand bit is daft& the scheme doesn't extend to cheaper vehicles like the majority might move toward for basic short town commutes (the majority of most folks travel requirements apparantly (touted by all & sundry). If I could have a diddy Renault Twizy on the scheme i'd be interested as my pocket is devoid of moolah, as a family we'd happily use it as a second car, as I'm sure would a lot of folk, however the scheme is only for those who can bung around 18-24 geand at a vehicle anyway, which counts so many of us out for the next few years. Mr backsliding government, a twizy is nearly £7k if you pay 3k we'll get one. Simple.
  • Craig
    I would LOVE an Ampera but a) can't afford £28k for a new car and b) they simply are impractical with regards to charging them. I don't have a garage and park my car on the road outside my house and so am not gonna run a cable to charge it and leave it plugged in overnight! Until they improve the technology then the takeup is going to be miniscule
  • Spencer
    recharge can take 12-18 hours. till that bit is sorted... no thanks.
  • Even B.
    [...] Bitterwallet [...]
  • chester
    If you can't afford 30k for a car now you are going to be in a right mess when the depression starts. Get your lentils at the ready paupers as you are not going to be able to afford anything else.
  • catweazle
    Another aspect is how much to replace the batteries? They sure ain't gonna last forever and they sure ain't gonna be cheap.
  • captain c.
    Plenty of exciting and interesting electric cars being developed in China, but will we be allowed to buy one, even without a Gov incentive cheque?? No way!!! There is one 3 wheeler (2 front and 1 rear drive wheel), I particularly like - it looks like a prop from a SciFi movie, but no chance of getting it into the UK without paying silly money in import duties. Ditto electric bicycles.
  • Kevin
    We need early adopters to get it going but we do need the infrastructure in now as it will be required in the future (as with any new technology, mobiles, internet). If you don't it'll be even more expensive to create.
  • Richard M.
    Until you can do at least 500 mile on a single charge and the car itself costs about the same as a petrol or diesel equivilent, I'm out!
  • Raggedy
    I'd just like to give a warm welcome to the two bankers (Darren and chester) who have joined the happy throng at Bitter Wallet.
  • Darren
    @Raggedy HaHa, I do work in an investment bank, but I ain't no banker! are you my stalker?
  • James D.
    everyone seems to be forgetting, you don't have to buy any fuel.
  • Phjils
    Hmm... £25k for a car? No thanks.. I'll keep buying £500 motors and running them for a year, scrap value towards the next one. Sod buying a NEW car.
  • Tom
    @James Dewitt oh so it runs on thin air does it? You have to pay for the electricity to charge them.
  • junk b.
    Yoo, really great short article...

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