A grant of up to £5,000 is available towards the cost of buying certain plug-in cars. The grant reduces the cost of eligible cars by up to a quarter. Find out which cars qualify for the grant and the criteria they need to meet.
What is the Plug-In Car Grant?
You can receive a grant towards the cost of buying a new plug-in car that meets certain conditions. The term ‘plug-in’ applies to any car which can be charged by electricity.
The level of the grant is 25 per cent of the cost of the car, up to a maximum of £5,000. This level has been agreed until 31 March 2012, when the level of the grant will be reviewed.
How to apply for the grant
There are no application forms to fill in. The dealership or vendor selling you your plug-in car will complete all the paperwork for you. The amount of your grant will automatically be deducted from the price of your car at the point of purchase.
Cars covered by the grant
The grant covers any car that meets the criteria. At the moment, this is likely to be certain types of cars:
- electric vehicles (EVs) – these run completely on batteries and are plugged into the mains to be recharged
- plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – these use a petrol or diesel engine combined with a battery that plugs into the mains
- hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and other technologies
The first ten cars eligible for the grant are:
- Mitsubishi iMiEV
- smart fortwo electric drive
- Peugeot iON
- Citroen CZero
- Nissan Leaf
- Tata Vista EV
- Toyota Prius Plug-in
- Vauxhall Ampera
- Chevrolet Volt
- Renault Fluence
Only cars that meet the criteria set out below will be eligible for the grant.
For more detailed information about cars fuelled with electricity, hydrogen fuel cells and other greener fuels, see ‘Greener fuels for cars’.
The criteria cars must meet
In order to be eligible for the grant, cars must meet certain standards of safety and performance.
Only new cars are eligible (vehicle category ‘M1’). This includes pre-registration conversions (normal, internal combustion engine cars that were converted to battery or hybrid versions by specialist convertors before the car’s first registration). Motorbikes, quadricycles and vans are not covered.
Carbon dioxide exhaust emissions
Vehicles must give off less than 75 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre driven.
Electric vehicles (EVs) must be able to travel a minimum of 70 miles between charges. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) must have a minimum electric range of 10 miles.
Minimum top speed
Vehicles must be able to reach a speed of 60 miles per hour or more.
Vehicles must have:
- a 3-year or 60,000-miles vehicle warranty (guarantee)
- a 3-year battery and electric drive train warranty, with the option of extending the battery warranty for an extra 2 years
‘Drive train’ means the parts that send power from the engine to the wheels. These include the clutch, transmission (gear box), drive shafts, U-joints and differential.
Vehicles must have:
- either a minimum 5-year warranty on the battery and electric drive train as standard
- or extra evidence of battery performance to show reasonable performance after 3 years of use
Vehicles must comply with certain regulations (UN-ECE Reg 100.00) that show that they are electrically safe.
To make sure cars will be safe in a crash, they must either have:
- EC whole vehicle type approval (EC WVTA, not small series)
- or evidence that the car has appropriate levels of safety as judged by international standards
Why the grant is being offered
At the moment, the up-front cost of a plug-in vehicle is higher than that of a petrol or diesel equivalent. This is because they are being made in small volumes and the batteries are currently expensive. The Plug-In Car Grant will help to make buying a plug-in vehicle more affordable. For many drivers, the running costs of a plug-in vehicle will be lower than for conventional vehicles.
The environmental benefits of electric cars
Plug-in vehicles produce less carbon dioxide and air pollutants when driven that conventional cars. Electric cars produce no tailpipe (exhaust) emissions when they’re driven. This means they don’t add to the problem of poor air quality in cities and towns.
For more information about electric vehicles, see ‘Greener fuels for cars’.
Where can I plug-in my car?
Most people will be able to plug-in their vehicles in at home and recharge overnight to make use of cheaper electricity tarrifs.
It is possible to recharge an electric vehicle using a standard 3-pin plug, subject to the adequacy of the wiring. Increasingly, however, manufacturers are recommending dedicated home chargers that will allow faster charging times.
If you need to recharge your car while out and about there are a number of areas already installing public infrastructure. Government is funding the following areas to do so through the Plugged-In Scheme:
- East of England
- Greater Manchester
- Milton Keynes
- North East
- Northern Ireland
In addition, some local authorities, private sector companies and supermarkets are installing recharging facilties, like Brighton Council, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose.