€5,700 sweetener for motorists to buy electric cars

BRITISH motorists could receive up to £5,000 (€5,700) if they buy an electric car under government proposals unveiled yesterday.

The plan comes as part of a £250m scheme to make motoring greener, and ministers hope it will help Britain meet its target of slashing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said he wanted electric cars to become a much more common sight on Britain’s streets.

“What we’ve got to get people used to is the idea that electric cars will become quite normal, quite usual, that it won’t be exceptional and, without being slightly unkind to existing electric vehicles, they won’t be slightly odd,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

The scheme also includes £20 million to build more charging points and other infrastructure needed for people to use electric cars regularly.

Unveiling the scheme with Hoon, business minister Peter Mandelson urged Britain’s auto industry — which has been hit hard by the world economic slowdown — “to be a leader in the low carbon future”.

While welcoming the announcement, John Proctor, a spokesman for industry body Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said the car sector needed support to stay afloat in the short-term.

“The key thing is the industry is in the middle of its biggest-ever economic challenge. We need something short-term, if we’re going to stake our claim in developing low-carbon technology in the medium and long-term.”

The SMMT is urging the government to announce a scrappage scheme, which would pay motorists to ditch old cars for new, in next week’s budget.

The proposed incentives would be introduced in 2011, by which time ministers believe more electric and plug-in hybrid cars will be on the market.


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