Fiat 600e

Fiat urges UK government to re-introduce plug-in car grant or risk missing its own EV targets

'Electric car market in this country is in real jeopardy'

Fiat has said “more needs to be done” by the UK government if it wants to achieve its target of 80 per cent of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030, and renewed calls to reinstate the plug-in car grant for private buyers.

Last month, the millionth electric car was registered in the UK, and EV sales were up 21 per cent year-on-year, according to official registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). However, this was almost entirely driven by demand from businesses and fleets, as EV demand from private buyers dropped 25.1 per cent compared with January 2023. The SMMT called this “an ongoing trend that will undermine Britain’s ability to deliver net zero.”

Fiat’s statement follows a House of Lords environment and climate change committee report, published earlier this month. One of its key recommendations was for the government to tackle the disparity in upfront costs between electric and internal combustion engine (Ice) cars by introducing “targeted grants to support consumers buying affordable models”.

Under the Government’s own Zero Emission Vehicle (Zev) mandate, 22 per cent of new car sales in the UK must be pure electric in 2024, but by 2030 that figure must rise to 80 per cent. From 2035, all new cars sold in Britain must be pure electric. Any manufacturers failing to meet the targets face a charge of £15,000 per non-compliant vehicle, though they may trade credits with other manufacturers to avoid the penalties.

Fiat 500e

In the wake of the removal of the plug-in car grant, last June Fiat UK introduced its own £3,000 grant for customers to help encourage sales of its 500e electric city car. The company has now expanded the “Fiat E-Grant” to the 600e electric crossover and sporty Abarth 500e.

The Italian brand says this shows that it is “doing its bit” to support the Zev targets, but clearly thinks it should not all be down to the carmakers.

“More needs to be done,” said Fiat UK managing director, Damien Dally. “Consumers need further support to have a reason to make the switch to electric.”

He added: “The electric car market in this country is in real jeopardy. Private sales, as opposed to business and fleets, are softening and that’s a trend that needs a collective effort to reverse.

“With the Spring Budget just around the corner, we are urging the government to reintroduce incentives for consumers or face stifling, or even undoing, all the good work achieved to date and risking endangering net zero climate targets.

“We’re doing our bit, but there’s only so far we can go.”

Earlier this month, Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT, said: “Market growth is currently dependent on businesses and fleets. Government must therefore use the upcoming Budget to support private EV buyers, temporarily halving VAT to cut carbon, drive economic growth and help everyone make the switch.

“Manufacturers have been asked to supply the vehicles, we now ask government to help consumers buy the vehicles on which net zero depends.”

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