Explained: What is the government plug-in car grant?

With the government wanting only cars that are “effectively zero emissions” being sold in the UK by 2040, and ultra-low emission zones popping up in cities as local authorities try to tackle air pollution, electric vehicles are becoming more popular.

However, the buying public has been slow to uptake EVs, with legitimate concerns about range and recharging and less legitimate worries about stuff like whether you can drive them in the rain. (Of course you can.)

To encourage motorists into zero-emission cars, the government has put a plug-in car grant in place to make EVs more affordable. How do you take advantage of this discount? Read on…

What types of vehicle are targeted?

The plug-in grant doesn’t just apply to cars, it’s also applicable for vans, motorcycles, mopeds and taxis, so long as their official emissions figures fall under the amount specified in the legislation.

What are the categories?

The criteria required for a vehicle to be eligible for the grant is different depending on the type of vehicle. For cars and taxis, they must emit less than 50g/km of CO2 and travel at least 70 miles without any emissions at all.

Motorcycles must have zero emissions and travel at least 31 miles between charges. Mopeds can’t have any emissions either, but only have to travel at least 19 miles on a charge. Finally, vans must have emissions of less than 75g/km and travel at least 10 miles between charges.

How much can I save?

Again, this depends on the category. Car buyers can save 35 per cent of the vehicle’s value up to a maximum of £3,500, while motorcycle and moped buyers can get 20 per cent, up to a maximum of £1,500.

The biggest potential savings are for van and taxi drivers, who can save 20 per cent of the vehicle’s value up to £8,000 and £7,500 respectively.

Which cars does this apply to?

There are currently 24 cars, 13 motorcycles, 16 mopeds, 11 vans and one taxi eligible for the grant. The full list is available on the government’s website.

There are a wide variety of cars available, ranging from relatively inexpensive superminis like the Renault Zoe and Smart EQ Fortwo, up to more premium options such as the Audi e-tron and Tesla Model S.

In the taxi category, the only eligible option is the LEVC TX, which is the latest generation of London black cab. It runs purely from an electric motor but has a petrol engine acting like a generator to recharge the batteries when necessary.

What do I need to do to get it?

Absolutely nothing. The beauty of this grant is that there’s no onus on you to fill out forms or chase rebates – the grant is automatically applied to the cost of the car and the government reimburses the dealer or manufacturer you’ve bought the car from.