‘Better electric car incentives are needed to meet sales targets’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler wonders what’s needed to tempt more people into owning electric cars

Opinion - Vauxhall Corsa Electric

A few weeks ago I asked you what it would take to make you buy an EV and it’s fair to say that work needs to be done to get more people interested.

That’s also clear from the latest new-car registration figures. EV sales are up, but their share of the car market is static year on year, with businesses being the main buyers, thanks to financial incentives. Private buyers aren’t as interested.

You told us that price is one of the biggest issues, alongside the charging infrastructure, insurance and range. And as we reported only last week, we’re already seeing the car makers selling EVs at a loss to meet the targets that the Government has set for EV sales in 2024.

So what should the Government do? Currently the incentives focus on generous personal tax benefits for electric company-car users, plus tax benefits for the companies themselves and plug-in grants for businesses buying electric vans.

The car industry has a plan: halve VAT to 10 per cent on EVs for three years. “For demand to meet expectations, we need incentives,” Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) told me. “Investment is needed for private consumers, not just businesses. A VAT reduction on EVs could potentially put over a quarter of a million extra EVs onto the roads.”

According to the SMMT, halving VAT would give buyers an estimated additional £7.7billion in BEV buying power to the end of 2026. And an incentive would bring us into line with the rest of Europe. “The UK is the only major European market with no consumer EV incentive,” Hawes said, “But it’s the only market with mandated minimum targets for new ZEV registrations.”

A VAT cut would help, for sure. But so would mandating more charging points around the whole country and realistic insurance costs. Joined-up thinking is what we need.

Click here for our list of the best electric cars on sale...

Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

Most Popular

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details
Renault 4 - front (watermarked)
News

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details

Renault’s retro revolution will continue with a new version of the iconic Renault 4 as a small electric car. Here’s everything we know about it
2 Mar 2024
New Kia EV9 Air 2024 review: entry-level model is appealing in almost every way
Kia EV9 Air - front
Road tests

New Kia EV9 Air 2024 review: entry-level model is appealing in almost every way

The all-electric Kia EV9 SUV has a new entry-point, and it just might be the pick of the range
1 Mar 2024
Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month
Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport front corner static shot
News

Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month

The recently-launched second generation of Toyota’s funky hybrid SUV is our Deal of the Day for 29th February
29 Feb 2024