From January 1st you’ll be able to get a hefty £5,000 discount on certain low-CO2 cars thanks to a new Government grant. So, will it be enough to entice you to buy an electric car in 2011?
The Government certainly hopes you will. It (and the previous Labour administration) has put a lot of effort into making the UK a hub of zero-emissions motoring.
Last week the Department for Transport announced the low-CO2 cars that from January 1, will qualify for a £5,000 subsidy named the Plug-In Car Grant. But even after the price cut, are any of them tempting enough?
What cars qualify for the grant?
Firstly there are the city cars. Launching in January, the tiny Mitsubishi i-Miev will sell for £23,990 after the grant is applied (although this is after a pretty staggering price cut). I’ve driven one, and found it decent enough for purely urban driving, but I can’t imagine it selling like hot cakes anywhere else.
Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero will start leasing out their own rebadged versions of the i-MiEV soon after, for £415 a month.
The smart fortwo electric drive will also be available to lease from January 2011 – although prices for when it goes on sale in 2012 haven’t yet been announced. I tried a prototype version last year and like the i-MiEV, felt it would be an option for city dwellers only.
The Indica Vista, made by Indian manufacturer Tata, is due in 2012 – but little has been heard of it so far.
Not all of the cars that qualify for the grant are fully electric, so how do they measure up? The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt and the Vauxhall Ampera are among these, but the fact that they all have petrol engines as well as battery packs will negate buyers’ worries of running out of charge. So they’re a bit more ‘real-world’, but cost might still put mainstream buyers off: they’re predicted to sell for between £27,000 and £34,000. Plus they’re not on sale until 2012.
Interestingly, the only car already on sale that meets the grant criteria is the Tesla Roadster – a sports car. The DfT has confirmed that the firm has applied for the scheme, so it’s surprising that it was left off the initial list. Perhaps the delay is a clever PR move – after all, ‘taxpayers subsidising £90,000 sports cars’ won’t play well with the tabloids.
To buy or not to buy?
To my eyes, the only show in town right now is the Nissan Leaf – out in March, it is a proper family-sized five seater. With a 100-mile range and low running costs, plus a relatively affordable price tag of £23,350 (after the grant), it’s the best choice out of the cars that qualify for the grant.
Will this grant give you an extra nudge to go out and buy an electric car in the New Year or do you remain unconvinced?