1,149 new electric cars registered in Quarter 3

Nissan Leaf

Figures for the third quarter of 2013 show the number of new electric cars purchased with government grant support exceeded 1,000 per quarter for the first time. This good news has some positive implications for the UK’s ‘green’ car market, and has provided a welcome boost for the governments’ low-carbon initiatives.

The UK government grant scheme, administered via Plug-in Car Grants (PiCG), offers motorists a grant for 25 per cent of the purchase price of a qualifying ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV), up to a maximum subsidy of £5,000. PiCG report a best-ever total of 1,149 new electric car registrations under the scheme for the period July – September this year. 

The number of applications for grant support reflects a continuing upward trend. Though the initial uptake was slow, probably because of the limited range of qualifying vehicles available and limited consumer knowledge and confidence, the steady increase in registrations confirms the scheme is gathering momentum. As of June 2013, the number of subsidised purchases since inception in January 2011 had reached a total of 4,553 fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Electric cars are thus gradually gaining acceptance in the UK car market as motorists become aware of the advantages they offer:

  • The principal advantage of an electric vehicle is that it requires no petrol or diesel fuel. A battery range of upwards of 40 miles means many drivers will be able to manage a daily commute via a single home charge, thus significantly reducing their transport costs.
  • Electric vehicles are considerably more energy-efficient. A conventional vehicle only converts around 20 per cent of the energy stored in petrol/diesel fuel into drive power, whereas, by comparison, an electric vehicle can convert around 60 per cent of the electrical energy stored in its battery into drive power.
  • In performance, an electric motor is quiet and smooth with surprisingly good acceleration. Maintenance costs are also considerably lower than for an internal combustion engine.
  • Electric vehicles have zero emissions and consequently offer eco-friendly transport benefits which traditional motor vehicles cannot match.

Similarly, the perceived disadvantages of electric vehicles continue to be addressed, which has the effect of boosting consumer confidence in the electric option. Some initiatives include:

  • The popularity and continuing evolution of hybrids with plug-in charging and/or battery top-up technologies. These models share many of the energy-efficient features of electric vehicles, extend the vehicle range, and make their own parallel contribution to green motoring.
  • Battery technology continues to improve both in terms of recharge time and power-storing capability.

More immediately, the UK government’s PiCG subsidy, supported by a £400 million fund, will continue to promote the increased ownership of ultra-low carbon vehicles until 2015.

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