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Autumn Statement backs UK electric vehicle growth

Announced in the Autumn Statement, an additional £10m will be made available between 2017-18 and 2019-20 to increase the number of ultra-low emission vehicles – including electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cells – operating in London, ahead of plans to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2025.

Three new funding pots, totalling £85m, will support the roll-out of ultra-low emission taxis, buses and cities, while up to £50m will be invested to support innovation in manufacturing ultra-low emission vehicles in the UK, of which the government will contribute half the funding with the rest sought from industry.

The announcement is in addition the £15m set aside to install rapid charging points at 20-mile intervals along the UK’s major routes between 2015-16 and 2020-21, and the majority conversion of the Traffic Officer Fleet to Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles, revealed in the Roads Investment Strategy earlier this week.

However, some have criticised a lack of clarity for fleets and the still short lifespan of the Plug-In Car and Van grants.

Andrew Hogsden, senior manager, strategic fleet consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: ‘The financial incentive of a plug in grant has made electric vehicles more affordable for businesses and motorists in general. Rather than remove this grant in 2017 or when vehicle sales reach 50,000, we would have preferred to see a phased reduction to ensure the fledgling electric vehicle industry is not damaged by a sudden drop in sales.

‘The lack of clarity around mileage reimbursement rates for electric vehicles is a barrier to more businesses adopting this technology.  Whether it’s a company car or a private car used for work purposes, companies need clarity and certainty regarding the costs incurred in running electric vehicles and HMRC’s treatment of those costs.’

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.

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