• Oct 12th 2012 at 6:00PM
  • 17
Government incentives can be an important boost for new technologies moving from the testing ground to mainstream markets, but incentives are not guaranteed to achieve intended results – and there's no promise a government can maintain support. In an era of budgetary pressures (such as now), incentives can become easy targets.

The United Kingdom is scrutinizing its electric vehicle incentives. Similar debates are taking place in the US and France. California, for example, cut its EV rebates in half recently to deal with budget and economic constraints. According to a parliamentary report, the £11 million spent on a government program to encourage the use of plug-in EVs benefited only a "handful" of consumers, many of them affluent families who used the government grants to help fund second cars. The House of Commons Transport Committee is questioning whether that was a good use of public funds.

The UK's Department of Transport offers grants up to £5,000 (approximately $8,065 US at current exchange rates) for the purchase of an electric car as part of its emissions reduction strategy. The program has also funded a network of more than 1,600 public charging points across the country. The government was expecting to see tens of thousands of EVs on British roads by 2015, and independent forecasts think it could hit six figures by 2020. So far, the numbers haven't been good – 1,052 eligible cars were registered last year, up from 111 in 2010. As for charging stations, only 500 of the 1,600 units have been installed so far, which could be another barrier for adoption.

Government EV incentives have been in place in major markets around the world, including China, India and Japan. There has yet to be a country celebrating victory on this front, but it's still early in the game. Experts say that it's going to take sticker price reduction, charging station ubiquity, driving experience and more "keeping up with the Joneses" social influence to succeed. Until then, government incentives are being urgently requested by automakers and industry associations.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      Koch Money< INFECTING Democracies World Wide. This is what you get when you allow Billionaire to run your country into the Ground.
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        @ Ford Future and Rick, Between the pair of you, your rabid and mostly irrelevant comments, are making Gorr look positively lucid and rational !
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      Of course rebates are going to benefit the rich - the upfront price is higher, so it naturally limits who can afford the car. It's an upfront credit directly to the OEM, that can be applied at the moment it rolls off the line, that'd be much better at aligning net price to those who can afford the car.
        Rick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Average Joe can't afford to buy new Electric cars unless they cheap Chinese imports that will destroy the European car industries manufacturing base. If all the Average Joe's Brits migrated into cheap Chinese Electric cars overnight this incentive scheme would be dropped overnight, and instead you would have electricity meters/toll road meters fitted to the car overnight and taxed & collected through your bank account. They will have to repair roads fix traffic signs install new roundabouts, traffic lights & street lighting they are not going to do it for free because everybody has migrated to an electric car they still have to collect the revenue. Whats happening at the moment is only the very rich or big companies awash with cash are the only buyers of expensive electric cars. 33,000,000 car drivers buy 1,052 electric cars last year. UK Electric Car sales have fallen by 20% in 2012 so far this year. British Electric Car sales 2012 January to September YTD. 749 EV sales YTD 2012 -20% on 2011, average sales = 83 British EV sales a month 2012 937 EV sales YTD 2011, average sales = 104 British EV sales a month in 2011
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's a curious reversal of the US. In the UK, a conservative government encouraging alternate fueled vehicles while being criticized by the leftist opposition ! However, the House of Commons Transport Committee, has some justification as the UK barely manufactures anything anymore and alternate fueled vehicles are imported. The real tragedy is that the UK was at one time the world leader in EV technology, but due to neglect ( even opposition) by the previous leftist labour Government, the technology and the very well established firms manufacturing EV technology were encouraged by the UK government to close up shop in the UK and move to the US or the PRC ! It doesn't help that EV's don't enjoy a prestige reputation in the UK due to the ludicrous REVA, and the equally pathetic G-Wiz ! Both these absurd vehicles were permitted under the same arcane rule that permitted the Bond, Reliant and Morgan 3-wheelers ! However, EV's are beginning to be noticed in the UK, and it's important that conservative MP's are encouraged to support progressive subsidies for alternate fueled vehicles. Boris Johnson is a greatly inspiring advocate, but more political support is needed.
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      They just need to add the gas-guzzling tax to all ICE vehicles and used car sales. But they also need to make sure the car companies aren't charging the exact amount of the subsidy in addition to the price just to make a few thousand dollar profit. And some of these car companies should be using third party parts to reduce the costs.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        That's what you need in the UK, more taxes.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          :D
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          You tax the people creating the problem. You subsidize the solution to the problem. The people bitching about paying taxes are the ones causing the problems.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Because all governments are better at spending your money than you are, right?
          throwback
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          that's the politician's answer to every problem, more taxes. Doesn't matter which side of the Atlantic you are on
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      $8,000 is not enough if the UK Government just paid for the $31,172 battery pack costs in a Nissan Leaf when new and when they need replacing every 7 years, this would help Average Joe Brit on an Average Joe wages in the UK to buy a small modest EV car new. Otherwise l can't see the current trend in falling EV sales sold to the rich few ever changing most folk will just migrate out of cars in the future as oil runs dry. EV sales were averaging 104 a month in the UK in 2011, EV sales have fallen to an average 83 sales a month in 2012 in the UK. 3,700,000 Brits brought 2 wheeled pedal cycles proper zero emission transport last year in the race to see who can be the greenest on the planet, cycle sales were up +28% - spot the trend.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shifting of road tax bill that everybody paid once a year onto new car buyers car purchase will only be short lived, but it will force folk into more fuel efficient cars. In the future road pricing will be introduced and road tax was due to be scrapped anyway, with £1.34 ($2.15) a mile to drive toll roads scheme in the UK with black boxes fitted to all cars.
        Mart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        In the U.S., road tax exists as a fuel tax, paid at every fill-up. Less efficient vehicles use more fuel, therefore paying more tax. Diesel is taxed at a higher rate than gasoline/petrol since it is used to power big delivery trucks. The problem is that alternate fuel (including electric) vehicles pay no tax, so politicians are looking at special taxes to apply to EVs or methane (natural gas) powered vehicles. Since road wear has little to do with carbon emissions, and much to do with vehicle weight and miles travelled, it seems a tax based on vehicle weight or on tires/tyres would be more sensible. Lighter vehicles also tend to be more efficient vehicles.
          Rick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mart
          Just about everybody in the UK wants road tax put on fuel apart from the British Government (Pay as you drive tolls on every road in the UK is a nice little earner, license to print money as its collected by direct debit at the end of the month) and those that use burn the most fuel in big gas guzzlers or folk that by big cheap houses in rural areas that do long commutes into work as a lifestyle choice. Millions have been avoiding paying road tax in the UK for year, but if it was put on fuel nobody can escape paying it, instead the British Government crush cars of those that don't insure or have road tax disc displayed on the windscreen. Pensioners who use the roads less would pay less road tax if it was put on fuel and like you say EV's would pay nothing, that would be a huge incentive to buy, but once the whole roads were filled only with a few electric cars only the tax on them would become massive they would install electric meters in cars. Fast majority of Brits want road tax on fuel it is pure and simple an easy to collect tax that can't be avoided they already rape you with up to 81% tax on every gallon you buy in recent times with fuel duty tax + VAT taxes on fuels, but the British Government want road tax changed to a toll road tax collected on all cars including EV's with a little black box so they have direct access to your bank account where it will be collected at the end of every month, it could also be a way of big brother monitoring your every move via satellite which could lead to more fines down the road if you break speed limits, park illegally etc which will become a license to print money and rape milk the motorist of what little spare disposable income they have left.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mart
          At this point it is not really an issue since there are so few EVs on the road. But many states will start charging an annual EV fee. Eventually, another system will be devised when the number EVs warrants a better system. But for now, creating a system would cost more than the fees you would collect.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Biggest game changing change in the pipeline that will help electric cars will yearly road tax ( Vehicle Excise Duty) we pay for repairing our roads is going to be scrapped and added to the purchase price of all new cars instead. The new tax will punish high CO2 polluting high performance gasoline cars, reward low CO2 producers. So basically something like a LHD base model Chevy Camaro costing £35,025 ($56,290) to buy new will now have an extra £23,000 ($36,964) added to the purchase price making the new purchase price of $93,254 that will be used repair UK roads, the Nissan Leaf owner will pay nothing extra. AUTO EXPRESS.. Vehicle Excise Duty could be replaced by an up-front fee of up to £23,000 for cars with the highest emissions Vehicle Excise Duty could be scrapped and replaced with an up-front purchase tax, under plans drawn up by a Government advisor. The purchase tax would still be based on a car's CO2 emissions, and would mean buyers of supercars and gas-guzzlers could see as much as £23,000 added to the list price of their vehicle. But even small and medium sized cars could see sizeable lump sums added to their price, as a rate of £50 would be charged for every gram of CO2 a car produces over a pre-set point, which is proposed to be 94g/km. The proposed scheme would still offer incentives for buyers to choose fuel efficient cars, though, as vehicles with emissions below a set point would actually get a discount on list price, thanks to Government subsidies. Under the scheme, a £9,084 1.25-litre Ford Fiesta would see its list price increased to £10,734, while the price of a more efficient 1.6-litre diesel model would fall from £11,845 to £11,495. http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/consumer-news/60598/new-car-sales-tax-proposed
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