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DfT expects £170m underspend on ULEV financial support

Plans to improve uptake of ULEVs – which emit less than 75g/km CO2 – were laid out during the 2010 spending review, where the government announced a £400m funding package to cover charging points, subsidies for electric and plug-in cars and vans and support research and development taking place in the UK.

However, only weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the government was stepping up its investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, figures are showing demand is far lower than had initially been budgeted for.

The Plug-in Car Grant, which offers 25% or up to £5,000 off the price of an eligible car, launched in January 2011 with budget set out for 8,600 claims in its first year. As of December 31 2013, DfT figures show only 6,709 claims were made, while the Plug-in Van Grant (which offers 20% or up to £8,000 off the price of an eligible van) claims totalled 404 since it launched in February 2012.

Richard Goodwill, parliamentary under-secretary (DfT), said in a written answer: ‘A provision of £400 million was made to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles between 2010-15. This figure was derived from manufacturers' forecast sales of ultra-low emission vehicles over the period, relying on early product launches and relatively fast consumer acceptance of new technologies.

‘Sales of ULEVs have been increasing year on year, but at a slower rate than originally anticipated. We are currently projecting to spend c.£230 million over the period. Grant uptake in 2013 was 335% higher than in 2011, grants in January 2014 were at a record level and 679% higher than the equivalent month in 2013.’

Alex Grant

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