Plug-in hybrid car grant scrapped from today due to spike in demand

Electric and hydrogen car grants have also been reduced

THE DEPARTMENT for Transport (DfT) has scrapped the plug-in hybrid car subsidy ahead of its recently announced deadline of November 9, due to an unexpected surge in demand for he ultra-low emission vehicles.

With the new scheme in place, all new plug-in hybrid cars on sale today will no longer qualify for a government discount. Before the changes, buyers of plug-in cars emitting between 50 and 75g/km of CO2 could make use of a £2,500 subsidy towards the purchase of their vehicle.

Discounts for cars that emit less than 50g/km of CO2 and can travel at least 70 miles on electric power alone have also been reduced, from £4,500 to £3,500. As no plug-in hybrid car currently on sale meets these criteria, only new pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars can benefit from this grant.

According to the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV), the new scheme has been introduced now because restrictions on how many cars could be sold with the subsidy were reached far earlier than anticipated. It’s claimed the budget-imposed limits for the transition period were hit during the afternoon of October 19 — just eight days after the new grant rates were announced by the DfT.

Details on these caps weren’t disclosed by the DfT or OLEV, though the RAC Foundation says the limits were set at 6,000 plug-in hybrid cars and 3,000 electric or hydrogen cars. This means, on average, 1,150 subsidy-eligible cars were sold every day during the transition period before the restrictions were reached.

To put that sales spike into perspective, the RAC Foundation says just 140 plug-in hybrid or zero emissions cars were sold in the UK per day on average during the first six months of 2018.

Now the new grants are in place, the DfT says it can “focus its support on zero emission models like pure-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars”, as part of government plans to bring the CO2 emissions of new cars down to “effectively zero” by 2040.

The DfT announced it would be reducing the grants for electric vehicles on October 11, resulting in a backlash from the industry.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “It’s astounding that just three months after publishing its ambitious vision for a zero emissions future, the government has slashed the very incentive that offers our best chance of getting there.”

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