UK Plug-in Car grants: who’s in and who’s out

17 December 2010

The government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles this week announced a list of nine green cars that will be eligible for its £5,000 grant from January next year.

As I’ve noted before, the terms of the Plug-in Vehicle grant programme exclude small electric vehicles classified as quadricyles, so there’s no helpful cash for buyers of the Reva G-Wiz, Tazzari Zero or EuAuto MyCar, nor for those eyeing the upcoming Renault Twizy ZE. Instead the cash will only soften the blow for buyers of full-size electric and plug-in cars, almost all of which hail from large, established car makers. It’s a shame that some of the public money allocated to the scheme isn’t being used to support innovation from smaller makers who could really use the help.

Another noticeable absence from the list is the Tesla Roadster, which meets all of the eligibility criteria but might prove politically awkward – few like the notion of taxpayer cash being handed out to buyers of luxury sports cars. According to a Guardian report, the omission is not to spare politicians’ blushes, but a simple administrative delay. Hmmm.

Finally, I was surprised that Renault’s Fluence ZE electric car was not on the list. I asked Renault if this was an oversight – a spokesman said, “No – Fluence doesn’t go on sale in the UK until the second half 2012, so we are applying for inclusion in the second wave of the scheme.” The government is due to evaluate the success of the plug-in programme in January 2012 at which point it could conceivably scrap the whole thing. If the handouts continue, the Fluence ZE could cost as little as £17,000 after rebates.

I had thought that a right-hand drive version of the Fluence ZE was due in the UK very shortly after its debut on the continent in mid-2011 – that’s certainly what senior Renault executives were saying until recently. Now it seems likely that the offbeat Renault Twizy ZE two-seater will go on sale in the UK before its bigger Fluence brother. The Twizy’s tandem layout means it needs nothing more complicated than a headlamp swap to meet UK needs.

Here are the nine cars the government has anointed so far:

VehicleUK availabilityPrice after grant
(inc. VAT @ 20%)
Mitsubishi i-MievJanuary 2011 £23,990
Smart ForTwo EDJanuary 2011 To be confirmed
Peugeot iOnJanuary 2011 To be confirmed
Nissan LeafMarch 2011 £23,990
Tata VistaMarch 2011 To be confirmed
Citroen C-ZeroSpring 2011 To be confirmed
Vauxhall AmperaEarly 2012 £28,995
Toyota Prius Plug-inEarly 2012 To be confirmed
Chevrolet VoltEarly 2012 To be confirmed

Next » « Previous Home