Nine electric cars to get government subsidies

The government has announced which electric cars will be included in its £43m scheme to encourage take-up of environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Each car will be entitled to a 25% discount up to £5,000 off the list price making currently expensive electric technology more competitive with its petrol or diesel equivalent.
Only two of the nine cars will be available to buy or lease when the scheme gets underway on 1 January 2011 – the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Smart fortwo electric drive are both scheduled to go on sale in the New Year.

Those waiting for a larger family car will have to wait until March when the Nissan Leaf finally goes on sale in the UK.

Range-anxiety is the biggest concern for potential EV buyers, though – the Nissan Leaf can only manage an average of 100 miles on a charge, making it a less viable proposition for longer journeys.

The government scheme is expected to boost sales of electric vehicles considerably, though – the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf will both go on sale from around £24,000 and £20m has been committed by the government to building recharging points across the country.

The inclusion of the final three cars on the list - the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera, all due out in early-2012, might prove controversial because they retain small petrol engines to boost range.

The Ampera will be an appealing purchase, however, with its 50-mile range on an overnight charge and a price announced today of £28,995 after the government subsidy.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "A few years ago, ultra-low emission cars with mass market appeal appeared just a pipe dream. Now they are a reality and we can have all the convenience of the car without the carbon that normally goes with it."

The full list of eligible cars and on-sale dates:

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Jan 2011
Smart fortwo electric drive: Jan 2011
Peugeot iOn: Jan 2011
Nissan Leaf: March 2011
Tata Vista: March 2011
Citroen CZero: Early 2011
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid: Early 2012
Chevrolet Volt: Early 2012
Vauxhall Ampera: Early 2012
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