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The UK electric car grant and electric van grant explained

The UK government's plug-in car grant (PiCG) subsidy offers buyers up to £1,500 off new electric cars costing less than £32,000; a plug-in van grant (PiVG) is available, too

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If you’re looking at buying a new electric car in the UK, then you need to know about the government’s plug-in car grant (PiCG). The PiCG is a form of electric-car subsidy that used to apply to all kinds of plug-in models, but now only applies to certain cars – and only those costing less than £32,000.

Major changes to the grant came into effect in March 2021, and again in December of the same year, as the Department for Transport (DfT) looked to make the funds earmarked for the scheme last longer. The PiCG is now only available for cars costing up to £32,000 and covers 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £1,500. That's half what was available before March 2021.

The conditions of the PiCG have changed several times since it was first introduced back in 2011, too. At that time, it offered up to £5,000 towards the cost of both plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. In 2018, the rules changed to exclude cars with an electric range of less than 70 miles, and until the changes in 2021, the price threshold for the grant was £50,000.

Regardless, the plug-in car grant – together with the very low company-car tax rate on electric cars – is designed to encourage people to switch to cleaner electric vehicles. It makes zero-emissions models more affordable, which is important given that electric cars and vans are generally more expensive than their petrol and diesel-engined equivalents – a factor which can be off-putting to first-time buyers. Here, we explain everything you need to know about the UK government’s plug-in car grant, as well as the subsidy for vans.

How does the plug-in car grant work?

The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) is the official body in charge of the grant. It decides which cars are eligible based on things like emissions, safety features, warranty length and top speed. The plug-in car grant covers 35% of the purchase price of a brand-new car (up to a maximum of £1,500).

Cars that qualify must:

  • Have official CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km
  • Be able to travel at least 70 miles with no CO2 emissions
  • Feature on OZEV's approved vehicle list
  • Have a list price of less than £32,000

Previously, the government sorted electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars into three groups – Category 1, 2 and 3 – to determine how much of a grant they were eligible for. However, changes in 2018 meant that Category 2 and 3 vehicles (exclusively plug-in hybrids) were no longer eligible for government support. Nowadays, only Category 1 cars qualify and the term 'Category 1' itself has been dropped.

How do I apply for the plug-in car grant?

You don’t. This process is handled by the dealership selling the car, rather than the customer buying. Most dealerships will make it clear exactly what the eligible car’s price was before and after the grant, so you can tell exactly how much you’ve saved in the process. Manufacturers are responsible for applying to OZEV to ensure their cars are approved for the grant.

Are there any other ULEV grants or subsidies available?

Until the end of March 2022, the government offered up to £350 towards the installation of a home wallbox charger. The terms of this grant have now been changed, however, and it's no longer available to single-occupancy homeowners. Elsewhere, electric cars are exempt from the London Congestion Charge until 2025, but you need to register your vehicle with Transport for London (TfL) first to ensure you're not billed for driving in the capital.

What cars qualify for the grant?

As of March 2022, this is OZEV's list of cars that are eligible for the plug-in car grant. All are electric-only and have at least one variant that costs less than £32,000. Remember, certain trim levels or versions will cost more than £32,000, so be aware of that when you’re choosing the spec of your car.

What vans qualify for the grant?

The plug-in van grant stands at a maximum of £5,000 for models up to 4.25 tonnes, and up to £2,500 for smaller vans. Heavier vans (those in the 4.25-tonne category and above) qualify for a 'small truck' plug-in grant, covering 20% of the price up to a maximum of £16,000. The government has confirmed that these grants will continue to be available through 2024 and 2025. As of March 2022, the following models qualify:

Small vans (up to £2,500 grant):

Large vans (up to £5,000 grant):

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