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Car buyers question Government's commitment on emissions after EV grant changes

Charging an electric vehicle (EV)

Car buyers have described Government’s plug-in grant as “very important” driver of the shift to electric vehicles (EV) as 79% said they disagreed with Government’s recent changes to the scheme.

And more than half (56%) of the 2,456 respondents to a recent What Car? survey said that they would have preferred to see fuel duty raised instead – following an 11-year freeze – as 62%  said that they believe recent changes to the plug-in car grant show Government is not committed to a green future.

The results of the survey of in-market buyers suggest that the decision to make  further cuts to the incentive – reducing the grant from £3,000 to £2,500 and capping eligible vehicles at £35,000 – will impact consumers’ consideration of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).

Critics of the scheme have already questioned the move, which appears to contradict the ambitions of the UK Government’s Road to Zero strategy, with Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes, branding it “the wrong move at the wrong time”.

What Car? editor Steve HuntingfordSteve Huntingford, editor at What Car?, said: “The Government’s decision to cut the PiCG came as a complete surprise to many last week, and our latest research shows the vast majority of the public disagree with the move.

“Although there are now more electric vehicles on the market than ever before, at a wide range of price points, their cost remains a barrier to entry for many, and the grant has been instrumental in encouraging motorists to make the switch.

“Our research suggests that cutting the grant and introducing a new list price limit of £35,000 will result in many potential EV buyers delaying their purchase.”

Government’s PiCG scheme was introduced in 2011 to encourage both motorists and vehicle manufacturers to make the change to electric power, by making these models more affordable to buy.

Half of the respondents to the What Car? study considering a move to an EV said that last week’s changes meant that they were now less likely to buy an electric vehicle following changes to the grant.

When asked how important the grant is in influencing their purchase decision, two-thirds of prospective EV buyers defined the grant as ‘very important’.

Earlier this week AM reported how car manufacturers had ramped-up their EV messaging in the past week in order to highlight their EVs’ ongoing eligibility to the PiCG.

However, more than 20 models on sale in the UK are understood to have lost their eligibility.

In the wake of Government’s changes, MG pledged to maintain a contribution of £3,000 to EV buyers interested in its ZS EV SUV and MG5 SW EV to maintain earlier benefits, while Skoda and Citroen flagged the ongoing eligibility of their new-to-market Enyaq and eC4 flagship EV models.

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