Smart Transport

Ford calls for strategy and partnership with Government on plug-in car incentives and infrastructure

Ford is calling on the automotive industry and the Government to work in partnership to boost adoption rates of plug-in vehicles with a clear strategy for incentives and infrastructure.

Ford of Britain chairman, Graham Hoare, called for a joined-up, clear and consistent long-term, government-partnered strategy in order to meet the deadline of having all new vehicle sales as zero emissions by 2035 or earlier.

Speaking at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders International Automotive Summit Live 2020 online event, Hoare said: “We should be under no illusion that reaching zero emissions future will require an unparalleled level of commitment and cooperation by a range of different stakeholders – government departments, local authorities, the auto industry, energy providers, and customers.

“We need Government to partner with us and have joint equity in formulating and delivering a comprehensive and consistent strategy that encompasses all stakeholders and that provides a path to the future – a path that also encompasses a range of technologies, including mild hybrids, hybrids and plug-in hybrids on the route to zero emissions.”

Citing the example of Norway which has provided consumers with consistent zero emissions incentives over the past 30 years (both purchasing incentives with zero purchase tax, plus social incentives such as cheaper road tolls and ferry fares, use of bus lanes and cheaper parking), and which has a recharging infrastructure with a density six times per person higher than that in the UK today, Hoare outlined some of the key considerations for a strategy for the UK.

These include:

  • Incentives – both purchase and usage incentives – that encourage consumers to adopt new technologies – not just for all-electrics but for other technologies such as PHEVs that will pave the way for a zero emissions future
  • Infrastructure – a ‘quantum leap’ in the number and geographical spread of recharging points including on-street, workplace, destination and high-speed charging that provides customers with the confidence of accessibility regardless of where they live in the UK. The SMMT said that at present, 40% of the total national recharging infrastructure is located in the South East
  • Energy generation – a decision on what technologies will provide the UK with the electrical power it needs in a clean and efficient manner in the years ahead to support the growth of zero emissions vehicles
  • Vehicles – the auto industry needs to provide the breadth and volume of vehicles and personal transport options that provide customers with the freedom to travel and live their lives to the full

The plug-in car grant scheme was introduced in 2011 to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). It was originally set at £5,000 for all eligible ultra-low emission cars but has been slowly reduced over the years.

In 2018, the grant was changed to focus on zero-emission cars. It was cut by £1,000 and fleets were told it would no longer apply to hybrid cars with a range of less than 70 zero emission miles.

The rate was cut further in the Budget 2020 statement for cars by £500, from £3,500 to £3,000, and excluded cars costing £50,000 or more.

Plug-in grants for electric vans (up to £8,000), large vans and trucks (up to £20,000), taxis (up to £7,500) and motorbikes (up to £1,500), remain at the same level.

The grant has currently been extended until 2022-23.

Hoare said: “Given the size and scale of what we want to achieve in the UK, we will not see a shift from the internal combustion engine to all-electric vehicles in a single jump.

“Customer confidence is not ready for the leap yet, and the cost gap between petrol or diesel and all-electric vehicles is still significant.

“This is why a range of bridging technologies from mild hybrids through to plug-in hybrids are essential, and why plug-in hybrids also should be considered as a viable technology well into the 2030s.”

Hoare added that Ford has seen what can be achieved when different stakeholders come together with a common purpose, after working in partnership with a wide range of different partners in the VentilatorChallengeUK building ventilators for the NHS.

He said: “We need a similar spirit of endeavour if we are to meet the electrification challenge – not a ‘can do’ attitude but a ‘will do’ determination.

“But time is short, and we must start today because tomorrow will be too late.”

Automotive industry body SMMT spoke at the its Sumitt to also call on Government to address the pressure facing the industry with a support package for the entire sector to help drive demand and ease cash flow, including business rate holidays, VAT cuts and financial incentives such as a scrappage scheme.

Vehicle currently eligible for the UK plug-in car grant:

  • BMW i3 and i3s
  • BYD e6
  • DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
  • Hyundai IONIQ Electric
  • Hyundai KONA Electric
  • Kia e-Niro 3
  • Kia e-Niro 4
  • Kia e-Niro 4+
  • Kia Soul EV
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
  • Mercedes-Benz eVito Tourer
  • MG ZS EV
  • MINI Electric
  • Nissan e-NV200 (5-seater and 7-seater)
  • Nissan LEAF
  • Peugeot e-208
  • Peugeot e-2008
  • Renault ZOE
  • SEAT Mii electric
  • Škoda Citigo-e iV
  • Smart EQ fortwo
  • Smart EQ forfour
  • Tesla Model 3 Long Range
  • Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
  • Vauxhall Corsa-e
  • Volkswagen e-up!
  • Volkswagen e-Golf

To be eligible for the grant, cars must cost less than £50,000. This is the recommended retail price (RRP), and includes VAT and delivery fees.

The grant will pay for 35% of the purchase price for these vehicles, up to a maximum of £3,000.

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