New UK Plug-in Car Grant scheme from 01 March 2016


Vehicle leasing providers are encouraging those looking at plug-in hybrid vehicles to place their order as soon as possible to make the most of the current UK Government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) scheme.

With the grant system set for a shake-up from Tuesday 01 March 2016, there are only a few weeks left to get orders in before the level of government subsidy halves for PHEVs – the fastest growing alternative-fuel car market.

New rules for the PiCG see three categories come into force with only pure electric vehicles (EVs) eligible for the full £4,500 subsidy. These are models that emit less than 50 g/km CO2 and have a zero-emission range of at least 70 miles.

Categories 2 and 3 involve up to 50 g/km CO2 models with a zero-emission range of 10-69 miles and 50-75 g/km CO2 vehicles with a zero emission range of at least 20 miles respectively. These two categories will receive grants of £2,500 off the price of a car, rather than the current £5,000.

It is unclear what manufacturers will do once the new PiCG levels kick in, with some manufacturers potentially set to absorb the additional expense in the list price. There is no requirement for them to do this though so the car that you are looking at now could end up a few thousand pounds more expensive in a month’s time.

Leasing provider GKL Leasing forecast that businesses will see increases in premiums of at least £90+VAT from 1st March and are encouraging customers to make the most of these savings by placing orders before the end of February.

Sam Young, Low CO2 Business Development, Westward Leasing (GKL Bristol), said: “If you are even considering one of these vehicles this year then you need to act now. These cars are never going to be any less than now. With the delivery window so long and with the ability to pre-order for dates later in the year then the time to act is now to make things as cost effective as they will ever be.

“If you have cars doing less than 20,000 miles per year the savings available from tax benefits, urban fuel use and the great environmental benefits and image for a business makes this type of car an essential part of any fleet. So don’t get left behind and end up paying more when you realise it’s what you should have done before.”

Find out more about the latest green car deals from Next Green Car.

Image: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Plug-in car sales hit all time high in UK


More than 3,000 plug-in cars were sold during December 2015, taking 1.7 per cent of new car sales in the UK, representing record breaking month for green cars. The sales mix is the highest ever seen in the UK and is a significant step forward on the previous best of 1.3 per cent seen in November 2015 and December 2014, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) figure

The news is especially good considering that overall December sales were the best ever – up 8.4 per cent – saw more than 180,000 vehicles registered. Almost 1,000 more Plug-in Car Grant (PiGC) vehicles were registered in December 2015 than in the same period the previous year with total sales at 3,090 – compared with December 2014’s 2,149. This represents one in every 60 cars sold was an ultra low emission vehicle.

Now with the end of the 2015 calender year complete, the figures show that 28,188 PiGC eligible cars were sold in 2015, almost double the 14,532 sold in 2014. This now puts the total number of PiCG eligible cars sold since the start of the grant at 47,690 – and this excludes commercial vehicles. Add in non-grant eligible plug-in cars and vans, the UK electric fleet now numbers almost 54,000 vehicles.

Plug-in sales accounted for almost 1.1 per cent of overall car registrations in 2015 – with the industry as a whole celebrating four years of consecutive growth and seeing only the fourth year where car sales have passed the 2.5 million mark within 12 months.

The alternatively fuelled vehicle market – which includes PiCG and hybrid vehicles – took the biggest ever market share for a year at 2.8 per cent of registrations, growing 40.3 per cent. Sales of Plug-in Hybrid vehicles almost doubled while pure-electric vehicles saw an increase of around 50 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The new car market defied expectations in 2015, hitting an all time record driven by strong consumer and business confidence. Buyers took advantage of attractive finance deals and low inflation to secure some of the most innovative, high tech and fuel efficient vehicles ever produced. The past four years have seen a remarkable period of sustained growth, and the outlook remains positive with every reason to expect the market to hold broadly steady in 2016.”

Ben Lane, Director of Next Green Car and Ecolane added: “December’s sales figures for plug-in vehicles are record-breaking with electric cars representing 1.7% of total UK car sales. In everyday terms, one in every 60 cars sold in the UK is now an ultra low emission vehicle.

“This is fantastic news for air quality, carbon emissions and the electric vehicle industry and has only been made possible by the ingenuity of manufacturers and the financial support of the UK Government. If this progress continues, as we believe it will, all new cars will be plug-in capable by 2040, which is the headline objective set by the UK to meet its national and international carbon obligations.”

Get more EV stats from Next Green Car

UK Plug-in Car Grant to be extended to 2018


A long-term extension to the UK Government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) has been announced today, guaranteeing it until the end of March 2018. More than 100,000 motorists over the course of the next couple of years are expected to benefit from the £400 million fund.

To reflect the changes in the market, the Department for Transport has made some changes to the PiCG. The maximum available discount on the overall purchase price drops from £5,000 to £4,500, with a weighting towards pure electric cars.

The PiGC is now linked in directly with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ vehicle categories released earlier this year. These split the cars into three categories depending on emissions and range.

Category 1: CO2 <50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles Category 2: CO2 <50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles Category 3: CO2 50-75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles

From 1st March 2016, two different grant rates will kick in, focusing on supporting those buying the greenest vehicles. Category 1 vehicles will benefit from the full £4,500 grant while Category 2 and 3 vehicles will receive £2,500. The current grant scheme will run until March 2017 or until a certain number of each grant has been awarded.

The PiCG will come under review when a cumulative total of 40,000 Category 1 claims have been made, and 45,000 Category 2 and 3 combined sales have gone through. Both these totals will include cars sold before March 2016.

A price cap will also be put in place to encourage everyday motorist’s uptake of plug-in cars. Category 2 and 3 models with a list price of more than £60,000 will not be eligible for the PiCG, though all Category 1 vehicles will be able to have the full PiCG no matter what their cost.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and the Plug-in Car Grant has been key to that success. Extending the grant in a sustainable way ensures more than 100,000 people will benefit from financial support when purchasing these cheap-to-run and green cars. We are determined to keep Britain at the forefront of the technology, increasing our support for plug-in vehicles to £600 million over the next five years to cut emissions, create jobs and support our cutting-edge industries.”

Alongside the PiGC, the government has announced it will continue the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme – though at a reduced cost. Plug-in car buyers will now get £500 towards the cost of installing a charging point at their home, rather than the £700 maximum.

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UK’s commitment to EVs reaffirmed at COP21


As part of the ongoing COP21 talks, Britain has pledged to continue its effort for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission vehicles by 2050. Announced on Thursday 3rd December, Transport Minister Andrew Jones reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to reduce emissions from transport.

As one of the 13 international members to have signed the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance in September 2015, the UK joins Germany, Holland, Norway and California as regions with established ZEV sales and infrastructure. The alliance aims to promote uptake, manufacture and use of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles in the next 35 years.

This acceleration of ZEV uptake is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than one billion tons per year by 2050. Proposals include removing government barriers to ZEVs, deploying them whenever possible in medium and heavy duty tasks – including in public transportation – and investing in an expanding ZEV infrastructure.

Mr Jones said: “The UK already has the largest market for ultra-low emission vehicles in the EU, and the fourth largest in the world, and today’s pledge reaffirms our commitment to ensuring almost every car and van is a zero emission vehicle by 2050.

“Electric cars are greener and cheaper to run and we are making them more affordable, spending more than £600 million between 2015 and 2020 to support the uptake and manufacturing of ultra-low emission vehicles here in the UK.

“By leading international efforts on this issue, we are playing our part in helping achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of more than 1 billion tonnes per year across the world by 2050.”

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UK EV sales reach second highest total in Q3 2015

Monthly sales of new plug-in cars reached their second highest point ever, with 3,912 registrations in September 2015. This figure is only topped by the 6,100 registrations made during March earlier this year, and brings the total number of plug-in cars registered to more than 43,000.

With just under 4,000 new plug-in cars sold, the traditionally strong September – with its new registration plate that comes in at the beginning of the month – saw plug-in cars take 0.8 per cent of the overall sales total. This is a slight dip from the previous month’s 1.1 per cent of total registrations, but September 2015 saw more than 462,500 new cars sold.

September also saw the total number of new cars registered in 2015 pass the two million mark for the first time at this point in the year since 2004. The overall increase in sales has seen the 43rd consecutive month of growth for the automotive market in the UK according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – the UK’s industry body.

The only downside is that the percentage of plug-in cars registered compared to petrol and diesel models is not increasing as it did so dramatically did during the course of last year. After hitting a height of 1.4 per cent market share in December 2014, the plug-in car market has swung either side of the 1.0 per cent mark throughout 2015 with no real kick-on from the previous twelve months.

Market analysis points to a potential lack of availability of plug-in models coming off the production line, especially in the case of plug-in hybrid cars. There are reports of waiting lists on a number of popular models, such as Volkswagen’s Golf GTE, and the registration figures showing those cars that have actually arrived and been put on the road, rather than orders placed.

The increase in plug-in hybrid models has been dramatic with more than 14,000 sold in 2015 to date – a 226 per cent increase on what was a particularly strong 2014. Part of this has seen the increase in models available, a trend that shows no signs of slowing with a number of new models confirmed for sale in the UK in the coming months.

The proportion of diesel models sold in September has not been significantly hit by the VW Group emissions scandal that unfolded towards the end of the month, with diesel powered cars accounting for 46 per cent of all cars sold during the month. We will have an indication with October’s registration figures next month as to whether the continuing investigation into rigged diesel emissions figures will have an influence on new car buyers.

Click here for more information on the plug-in car market »

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UK to retest diesels and compare with real-world emissions

As part of the UK-based inquiry into the fallout from the VW emissions scandal, the British Government’s vehicle certification arm will re-run tests on engines suspected of cheating regulations. In the first step towards real-driving tests having a significant impact on the emissions ratings of UK cars, the results from laboratory retests will also be compared to on-road driving emissions.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said in regards to the investigation: “The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), the UK regulator, is working with vehicle manufacturers to ensure that this issue is not industry wide. As part of this work they will re-run laboratory tests where necessary and compare them against real world driving emissions.”

“The Government takes the unacceptable actions of VW extremely seriously. My priority is to protect the public as we go through the process of investigating what went wrong and what we can do to stop it happening again in the future.”

The start of investigations into UK diesel cars comes on the back of a statement by Huw Irranca-Davies MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), saying: “I support the Government’s call for complete transparency across the EU automotive industry, a thorough investigation into the full extent of this scandal is needed. In the light of the revelations over VW in the US, customers here in the UK and across the EU need and deserve urgent reassurance that they have not been deceived by VW or other automotive manufacturers.

“But this is not simply an issue of customers being deceived. Air pollution from dangerous emissions in diesel vehicles is linked to thousands of deaths in the UK each year. We need to know from our government that the reported vehicle emissions in the UK are accurate, that no deception similar to that in the US has taken place, and that our emissions-testing regime is rigorous and secure.

“This will also add weight to the calls by the previous EAC committee to clean up the air in our city centres by introducing a network of low emission zones. The impact of poor air quality on health and mortality is already a scandal in the UK and in many of our major cities, and emissions from diesel vehicles are the prime culprit. The new Environment Audit Committee will discuss whether to examine these matters in the coming weeks.”

The UK is supported by the European Commission in carrying out investigations into emissions, in a statement by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. “Our message is clear: zero tolerance on fraud and rigorous compliance with EU rules. We need full disclosure and robust pollutant emissions tests in place.

“The commission invites all member states to carry out the necessary investigations at national level and report back. The commission is offering to facilitate the exchange of information between member states. We need to have a full picture of how many vehicles certified in the EU were fitted with defeat devices. We will discuss this matter in detail with the national Type Approval authorities in the coming days.

“Looking ahead, we count on Member States to swiftly agree on the final measures needed so that measurements of air pollutant emissions used for the delivery of a vehicle’s type approval reflect emissions in real driving conditions and cannot be fooled by deceitful applications. A new Real Driving Emission (RDE) test procedure will be phased in from early 2016, complementing the current laboratory based testing.

“But we still need to find agreement on the type approval treatment in case of major divergence between the results of the laboratory and real driving pollutant emissions tests. The agreement on this package, in addition to the already adopted RDE test procedures, will allow the EU to have ambitious and robust real driving emissions testing scheme in place.”

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Over 3 million deaths annually due to poor air quality

More than 3.3 million people around the world die prematurely from air pollution every year according to a new report published in scientific journal Nature, with road traffic calculated to be the biggest threat to those in the UK.

Scientists from Germany, America, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus have report that estimates the air quality related death toll could double by 2050 unless action is taken to counteract airbourne pollution.

Those countries worst hit are the rapidly developing economies of China and India which accounted for around 2 million premature deaths from air pollution in 2010. The United Kingdom’s total numbered more than 15,000.

The study, published on 16th September breaks down the greatest contributing industries to air pollution involving particulate matter, with residential and commercial energy having the largest impact in the worst hit countries. Power generation is the biggest cause of air pollution in America while, if equal toxicity for different emissions is assumed, in much of the UK and Europe, agriculture is the greatest contributor.

The study is one of the first to differentiate the different sources of air pollution by human toxicity and estimate the number of premature deaths cased by each pollutant. Weighting toxicity for different particulates, the United Kingdom’s biggest threat to pollution is surface transport, in particular road transport; the report calculates that carbonaceous aerosols in vehicle emissions are five times worse than that of inorganic compounds.

The report shows that, of the air pollution related UK deaths in 2010, more than 7,000 were because of particulates from the agriculture industry while road traffic accounted for just over 3,000. Power generation was almost 2,500 and industry more than 1,500. To compare with the worst hit country, China, the deaths from pollution caused by biomass burning (by far the smallest contributor) was almost 3,000 more than the UK total, while almost 450,000 people died because of residential energy pollution.

One unexpected finding is that agricultural emissions of ammonia had, according to the report, “a remarkably large impact on PM (particulate matter), and is the leading source category in Europe, Russia, Turkey, Korea, Japan and the Eastern USA. In many European countries, its contribution is 40 per cent or higher.” The ammonia levels are attributed to fertilizer use and farm animals.

Dr Ben Lane, director at Next Green Car, commented on the new findings saying: “We have known for decades that road transport is a significant contributor of air pollution and leads to thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK alone.

“While much progress has been made to reduce NOx and particulate emissions for new vehicles, even the latest Euro 6 standards for cars are not delivering the emissions reductions when used on real roads. Only electric vehicles are able to deliver the level of mobility we require and the emissions cuts we so desperately need.”

In its conclusion, the report states: “The urban population is expected to grow relatively rapidly from 3.6 billion in 2010 to 5.2 billion by 2015, and combined with increasing air pollution concentrations the health impacts will escalate. Our estimate of urban premature mortality by outdoor air pollution in 2010 is 2 million, increasing to 4.3 million by 2050. Urban population growth is responsible for part of this change, but the levels of air pollution in urban areas are also projected to grow rapidly.”

The report has been published just two months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015, set to take place in Paris from the end of November, which will bring the world’s leaders together to create a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim to reduce the impact on global warming.

Sources: Nature Journal, Next Green Car

Plug-in Car Grant scheme extended

The Government has announced that its Plug-in Car Grant will continue until at least February 2016.

Revealed today (Wednesday 26th August), the grant will remain open to motorists looking to buy a new ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) until early 2016 at a minimum. A longer term plan will be drawn up and announced after the Government’s November spending review.

The grant, which offers motorists up to £5,000 of the price of an electric car, has been extended for all categories of vehicle and aims to build on the recent growth of the plug-in car market.

Before this announcement, the plan was to run the scheme until 50,000 grants had been awarded but, with around 40,000 grants already made and sales of ULEVs accelerating, forecasts were coming in for the scheme to have reached its limit around November 2015. As a result of the extension, all plug-in cars with CO2 emissions of 75 g/km of under will remain eligible for the grant until February.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP said: “I’m pleased to announce today that the government is maintaining the current levels of grant, even as we move past the milestone of 50,000 vehicles. The UK is now the fastest growing market for electric vehicles in Europe. We will continue to invest to help make this technology affordable to everyone and to secure the UK’s position as a global leader.”

Hetal Shah, Head of Go Ultra Low, the Government backed campaign to promote ultra low-emission vehicles, said: “Continuing the Plug-in Car Grant at current levels is positive news for everyone, as it encourages zero-emission motoring and secures more funding for a greater number of ULEV buyers. This announcement demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting the growth of the ULEV market. If we are to meet ambitious targets for ULEV uptake, continued investment is paramount.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “With British buyers taking to ultra-low emission vehicles faster than anyone else in Europe, the extension of the Plug-in Car Grant is good news. The market for these vehicles remains small, however, so it is essential that government continues to provide effective incentives for their uptake – including the Plug-in Car Grant and other measures.”

For more information on the Plug-in Car Grant, visit the Go Ultra Low website

Next Green Car

UK electric fleet set to pass 40,000 vehicles

New industry figures just released show that UK electric car registrations have already surpassed their year-long 2014 total in just 6 months. The data also shows that UK EV registrations now number around 40,000 vehicles.

Between January and June this year there have been 14,586 new registrations, as compared to 2014’s annual total of 14,498. What’s more, The rate of growth stands at 256% against the same period last year.

This means that so far in 2015, on average, an electric car has been purchased every 18 minutes by a UK consumer; an indication that plug-in vehicles are starting to make an indent on the mainstream motoring world.

Registrations are doubling year on year in every region. This largely down to manufacturers expanding their model ranges and the government grants but also shows the level of awareness regarding the benefits of EV driving is starting to spread.

In addition to the obvious environmental advantages, consumers are starting to recognise the economic savings that can be made by switching to electric (average running cost 2-3 p/mile).

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said, “Soaring demand across the UK shows that more and more people view ultra low emission vehicles as the right choice for them. Plug-in cars are green, cheap to run and benefit both families and businesses. The Government is investing £500 million over the next five years to help position Britain as a world leader in the technology, supporting skilled jobs and driving economic growth.”

“Being just six months in to 2015 and having already exceeded last year’s total plug-in car registrations is testament to consumer confidence in this capable and cost-effective technology,” said Hetal Shah, Head of Go Ultra Low. “The year-on-year rises give us great confidence in the future of electric cars as we move towards an ultra low emission future.”

Dr Ben Lane, director of Next Green Car added: “The cumulative figures continue to show sustained growth of the EV market in the UK and elsewhere. Adding these latest figures from OLEV together with the fact that a significant number of EVs not eligible for the grant schemes have also been registered, the total UK light-duty electric fleet now numbers almost 40,000 electric vehicles.

Click here for all the latest EV market stats >>

Next Green Car, Go Ultra Low

Norway continues to lead global EV market


Norway continues to lead the global electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) market, according to recent analysis by IHS Automotive, a global provider of critical information and insight to the automotive industry.

In first quarter 2015, Norway ranked first as measured by market share of EV and PHEV registrations in a given quarter for eight countries; with a staggering 33% of all new cars registered having an electric power-train.

With EV/PHEVs representing one third of new vehicles registered in Norway during the first quarter of this year, Norway leads the first quarter rankings with just over 8,000 units, and achieved a 41% increase in volume over the same period in 2014. According to the latest figures, the Volkswagen e-Golf was the dominant model among consumers in Norway during the first quarter of 2015.

The reasons for the country’s conversion to electric cars are many and include Norway’s huge Sovereign Wealth Fund which enable the Government to provide a number of tax breaks for EV owners. In addition, whereas high import taxes are levied on conventional cars, EVs are exempt; a huge financial incentive for protective EV buyers.

The Netherlands experienced the second largest growth in electric vehicle share in the first quarter of this year, with more than 5,700 units registered, representing 5.7% of the market during the quarter. The UK, however, has gained much ground in the past 12 month with a 390% surge in EV sales which now represent 1.2% (8,684) of the new car market.

In terms of absolute sales, the U.S. and China continue to lead all countries based on volumes of new EV/PHEVs registered during the quarter, with nearly 15,000 registrations in the U.S. and nearly 13,000 registrations in China.

“While the federal tax credit in the U.S. of up to $7,500 USD for plug-in electric vehicles is continuing to encourage sales across the country, the adoption of these vehicles has been uneven, as consumer consideration and choice has skewed in favour of states offering additional incentives, like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in California or Georgia’s Zero Emission Vehicle Tax Credit,” said Ben Scott, senior analyst at IHS Automotive.

Based on volume, the most popular EV/PHEV in the U.S. is the Tesla Model S. However, the market share for EV/PHEVs in the U.S. remains low, with these vehicles accounting for just 0.8% of the market during the quarter.

In China, government incentives available support EV and PHEV ownership. Between the first quarter last year and the same time frame this year, the number of EV/PHEV registrations in China rose by nearly 750%. However, these vehicles continue to represent a very small percentage of the overall market in China – just 0.3%, indicating that further incentives may need to be considered to increase consumer acceptance.

The most popular plug-in vehicle in Q1 2015 in China is the BYD Qin PHEV. The United Kingdom also had impressive growth of 392% for plug-in vehicles between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015.

Japan is the only country to have a negative year over year percentage change. This is likely due to some EV incentives ending between this period and Japanese consumer preference towards HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles without a plug) over PHEVs.

Next Green Car, IHS Automotive