Emission targets ‘virtually impossible’ to hit after hybrid car grant cut

15th October 2018

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Sophie Stratford

The UK will find it “virtually impossible” to achieve its emission reduction targets after the government decided to scrap the plug-in car grant for hybrid vehicles.

That is according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which warned that low-emission vehicles would now be thousands of pounds more expensive for buyers.

The Department for Transport revealed last week that it would be reducing financial incentives for zero-emission cars by almost a third, and completely scrapping a grant for plug-in hybrids.

This is despite the grant helping to secure the sale of 160,000 hybrids over the last seven years, with SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes describing the decision as “astounding”.

“Just three months after publishing its ambitious vision for a zero emissions future, government has slashed the very incentive that offers our best chance of getting there,” he added.

The change will see the grant rate for zero-emission cars drop from £4,500 to £3,500, and was announced just days after scientists said the world must hit ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5˚C.

The SMMT said that, despite being increasingly popular, plug-in hybrids still represent less than half a percent of the 34.7 million cars currently on Britain’s roads.

It warned that the latest decision is likely to add to consumers’ concerns over affordability, and could also result in a fall in supply if manufacturers reallocate products to more supportive markets.

Moreover, the trade association highlighted how sales of pure electric cars plummeted by nearly 73% in Denmark after it scrapped a tax incentive, with the market failing to recover.

The UK government said plug-in hybrid vehicles would continue to get support through lower car tax rates, grants for charging infrastructure, and local incentives such as free parking.

However, the SMMT called for an end to “conflicting policies” that contradict the government’s goal of ensuring the UK is one of the world’s leading markets for low-emission vehicles

“If the UK is to be fit for an electrified future, we need a world-class package of incentives and infrastructure,” Hawes continued. “Government needs to rethink its policy, else its ambitions will never be realised.”

Image credit: iStock


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