Your questions answered

The UK electric car grant and electric van grant explained

The UK government's plug-in car grant offers buyers up to £2,500 off any new electric car costing less than £35,000; a subsidy is available for van buyers, too

Electric car charging

If you’re looking at buying a new electric car in the UK, then you’ll 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 cars capable of at least 70 miles of zero-emissions driving range.

Major changes to the grant came in March 2021 as the Department for Transport (DfT) looked to make the funds available for the scheme last longer. The PiCG is now only available for cars costing up to £35,000 and covers 35% of the purchase price up to a maximum of £2,500 – as opposed to £3,000 before. However, there are different conditions for the electric van subsidy.

The conditions of the PiCG have changed several times since it was first introduced back in 2011. 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 that have combustion engines, 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 cars and vans. It also makes zero-emissions vehicles more affordable, which is important given that electric cars and vans are generally more expensive than petrol and diesel 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 CO2 emissions, safety features, warranty length and top speed.

The plug-in car grant now covers 35% of the purchase price of a brand-new car (up to a maximum of £2,500)

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 £35,000

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?

Yes – the government will give you up to £350 towards the installation of a home wallbox charger. These must be officially approved and you need to have your own off-street parking. You also need to make sure you're the registered keeper of an eligible car, or at the very least have one on order.

Elsewhere, any car that emits less than 75g/km of CO2 is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, but you need to apply to Transport for London (TfL) to ensure you're not billed for driving in the capital. However, from October 2021 only fully zero-emissions cars will be exempt – and again, they must be registered with TfL to benefit.

Does my car qualify for the grant?

Here is a 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 £35,000. Remember, certain trim levels or versions of these models will cost more than £35,000, so be aware of that when you’re choosing the spec of your car.

The new Volkswagen ID.4 City Pure electric SUV will also be eligible for the plug-in car grant once it's recognised by the OZEV. 

Peugeot e-Partner

Does my van qualify for the grant?

Yes, the grant is a maximum of £6,000 for 3.5-tonne models, and up to £3,000 on smaller vans. Heavier vans (those in the 4.0 and 4.25-tonne categories) qualify for a 'small truck' plug-in grant, covering 20% of the purchase price up to a maximum of £16,000. The grant also provides a 20% list-price discount for plug-in vans with a pure-electric range of at least 60 miles and official CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km.

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