Electric Vehicle Grants (2019): The Complete Guide For The UK

PICG Grant

Electric Cars: The Basics

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Electric vehicle grants can help new buyers, or those thinking of making the switch to electric from conventional fuel cars, to make the change more affordable. These grants are also important for environmental reasons, as they encourage and enable a move to greener forms of transport.

Recent changes have altered the availability of these grants for electric vehicles creating a myriad of confusion. Below we provide the most up to date information available to help you get your sums right.

What Is The Plug-In Grant For Ultra Low Emission Vehicles?

The Plug-In Grant (PICG) is the Government’s grant for electric vehicles. With it you can buy a new ultra low-emission vehicle at a reduced cost. The aim of this is to encourage more drivers to buy vehicles that are better for the environment and our health.

The maximum grant that is available is £3,500 pounds, but you need to be aware that not all ultra low emission vehicles are able to get the grant. The government decides which vehicles are eligible for the grant, ensuring that the funding goes to only the cleanest vehicles while safeguarding the grant itself to make it sustainable. The ultra low emissions market in the UK is developing and the grant is there to support as many drivers and owners as possible.

What Counts As An Ultra Low Emission Vehicle?

An ultra low emission vehicle is one that only produces a lower amount of emissions that are harmful to the environment and people. They are defined as vehicles which ‘emit less than 75g of CO2/km’ and are able to achieve zero-tailpipe emissions for at least 10 miles.

How Do You Apply For The Plug-In Grant?

You yourself do not need to apply for the Plug-In Grant, rather when you buy your electric car or another ultra low emission vehicle, your dealer will include the grant in the purchase price. The government website provides detailed guidance through its registration portal for vehicle manufacturers and dealers.

Which Electric Cars Are Eligible For The Grant?

audi e tron electric SUV
The All-Electric Audi e-tron SUV (credit: Audi)

Following changes to the grant on 11 October 2018, there is now a list of all vehicles that are eligible for the grant, including electric cars and hybrids – which are vehicles that use partial electric power alongside a conventional petrol or diesel engine.

Categories For Ultra Low Emission Vehicles

Under the new grant levels, ultra low emission vehicles have been numerically categorised. These categories are based on the CO2 emissions of the vehicles and their zero emission range – how far they can travel and still create  zero emissions.

They are defined as follows:

  • Category 1 vehicles have CO₂ emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles
  • Category 2 vehicles have CO₂ emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles
  • Category 3 vehicles have CO₂ emissions of 50 to 75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles

Each category has different access to the grant. Since the changes to the grant in 2018, only category 1 vehicles are eligible, category 2 and 3 cars are not.

Category 1 Vehicles

Category 1 vehicles include cars, vans, taxis, mopeds and motorcycles. How much of the grant is available to each type of vehicle varies, with ultra low emission cars granted up to 35% of the purchase price, to a maximum of £3,500. The Government website list all vehicles that are eligible for the plug-in grant, including what percentage and how much of the purchase price the grant covers.

Since not all electric cars, hybrids and other ultra low emission cars have been approved by the government, there is a very specific list. The cars which are eligible are:

  • Audi e-tron
  • BMW i3 and i3s
  • BYD e6
  • Citroen CZero
  • Hyundai IONIQ Electric
  • Hyundai KONA Electric
  • Hyundai NEXO
  • Jaguar I-PACE
  • Kia e-Niro
  • Kia Soul EV
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
  • Nissan e-NV200 (5-seater and 7-seater)
  • Nissan LEAF
  • Peugeot iON
  • Renault ZOE
  • Smart EQ fortwo
  • Smart EQ forfour
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model X
  • Toyota Mirai
  • Volkswagen e-up!
  • Volkswagen e-Golf

Can The Plug-In Grant Be Used For A Second Hand Car?

Currently, the grant is only available for the purchase of new vehicles, so you will not be able to use it for a second hand car, even if it is an ultra low emission vehicle.

Can The Grant Be Used For Leased Car Purchases?

If you are looking to lease a car that is eligible under the grant, then you can use the discount towards your purchase. This is all done through the dealer who will need to complete an order with details of who will be leasing the car.

Other Benefits For Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Drivers

Tesla Charging Point
Tesla Charging Point

If you take advantage of the plug-in grant for ultra low emission vehicles, you will also become entitled to additional discounts and lower rates related to driving life. For example, tax supports, discounts on parking and congestion are being offered around the UK to electric car drivers. You will also be able to access additional grants towards charging an electric car.

Grants For Electric Vehicle Charging

For those who aren’t able to make use of the Plug-In Grant, as well as those who can, the UK Government is also supporting electric vehicle users with the, rather practically named, ‘Grant schemes for electric vehicle charging infrastructure’.

One of the grants here is tied to the installation of a home charging unit for electric vehicles. Electric cars can be charged on the road, as well as via traditional outlets, but using a home charging system for electric cars is much more efficient and cost-effective. At the time of writing, the grant offers up to £500 towards a home charger for an electric car.

Similarly, there is also a Workplace Charging Scheme which electric car drivers can apply for which operates a voucher based funding for businesses, public sector organisations and charities, to help with the ‘up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle chargepoints’.

Take Advantage Of Electric Car Grants

The government is looking to encourage and reward those that are contributing towards the reduction of our country’s carbon emissions and city noise and air pollution. If you’re looking to buy an ultra low emission vehicle, it is a no brainer to take advantage of the multitude of grants and discounts available to you. As the market grows, grant and discount opportunities will likely change. To stay in touch with updates on the matter, sign up to our newsletter and we will keep you posted on the latest electric vehicle news.

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include, the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising large-scale industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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