Nissan says customers can charge for free at Ecotricity's electric highway -- but you'll need to register for an RFID card first.

UK Pledges £500 Million in Funds to Help Electric Car Adoption Rates

The UK Government reinforced its commitment to electric cars earlier today by launching a £500 million initiative designed to get more Brits driving plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars.

Whatever the car, the UK Government's £500 million investment should help everyone wanting to buy a plug-in.

Whatever the car, the UK Government’s £500 million investment should help everyone wanting to buy a plug-in.

Announced this morning by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the funds will be split between continuing purchase incentives to help people buy a plug-in car, increased deployment of charging infrastructure, and the funding of low-emission transport technology research and development.

£5000 purchase grant to continue

At least £200 million of the £500 million commitment from the UK government will be earmarked for continuation of purchase incentives designed to make buying an electric car more affordable.

Officially, the grants are available to any private car buyer purchasing a plug-in car, and can account for up to 25 per cent of the car’s purchase cost up to a maximum of £5,000.

Unlike the U.S. tax credit towards electric vehicle purchase, the UK £5,000 grant is applied at the point of purchase, and goes directly to the automaker, not to the customer. Because the grant is cost-dependent, some electric car advocates say the grant, while good for those wanting to buy a plug-in car, is also helping to keep electric car prices artificially high.

Or to put it another way, some say automakers price cars at £5,000 more than they know consumers will pay, because of the Government grant.

Expanded charging infrastructure

The lion’s share of the funds will go directly to fund the expansion of electric car charging infrastructure across the UK. Unlike previous projects, which focused on slow and fast-speed city centre charging in densely populated areas, the new funds will include the provision of fast and rapid charging along major motorway routes and A-roads across the country.

Of those funds, £32 million will be allocated specifically to that purpose, with more going to cities and towns wanting to achieve ‘ultra-low city status:’ cities where incentives like free parking, free bus-lane access or other perks are offered to plug-in owners.

While some of the money will go towards buying EVs, much will be spent on improving infrastructure

While some of the money will go towards buying EVs, much will be spent on improving infrastructure

This will not only mean greater redundancy for those networks who already provide inter-city charging options for electric car drivers, but should help eliminate any range anxiety in new car owners who are contemplating inter-city or inter-town travel for the first time.

Research and development

The final segment of the funds, equating to around £100 million, will be spent on continuing governmental research and development into electric cars and other low-emissions vehicles. While the government isn’t clear on the specifics, we suspect this will include, but not be limited to, fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

In addition, we’d hope the funds are also used to investigate better ways of charging vehicles and providing a homogenous ownership experience for existing and future electric car owners, including a move away from segregated RFID-based networks and towards a more easy-to-use pay-as-you-charge system similar to those used at petrol stations.

Six years to find out

The latest Government incentive in electric and plug-in cars will run from 2015 through until 2020, with the purchase incentive scheme set to operate until at least 2017 or 50,000 of the £5,000 grants have been claimed.

But as with any government initiative, the proof won’t be seen for many years to come.

The biggest question is this: will the UK, which has stereotypically been fairly cool towards plug-in cars, change its attitude towards plug-in cars thanks to more government funding?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Great news u2026 a target of 50,000+ EVs before 2020. nnOf u00a332 million for DCFC, are the funds for direct investment, or matching public-private infrastructure funding? Either way this is a significant investment. :)nnAs a comparison, the Dutch are spending u20ac40 million for 200 DCFC station locations (each having redundant CCS/CHAdeMO chargers and a solar canopy) spaced every ~50 km (30 miles). Like Tesla Supercharger stations, the FastNed stations make for a good charging infrastructure model.nhttp://www.FastNed.NL/en/5348/Locations.htmlnStation Design:

    • Ad van der Meer

      Actually those dutch DCFC will also be ACFC as those ABB chargers are finally also certified for 43kW AC charging.nAdd to that, that those DBT chargers in the Love2load network will be swapped with other FC stations, the EV charging landscape will be quite different in only 2 years time.

  • Ashley Abraham

    It is interesting that the UK is now prioritising cities that offer free parking and use of bus lanes, both of which were adopted in Latvia and Norway three years ago. The move away from segregated RFID systems towards pay-as-you-charge also illustrates the UK’s laggard status. Note that Latvia was the first European state to announce a national charging infrastructure based upon 43kW AC in November 2012 in Paris. Additionally, Latvia is currently involved in deploying NFC based EV charging stations with payments taken by NFC compatible mobile devices within the “Drive Electric Latvia” program.nnIn Estonia, all public EV charging stations host 50kW DC and 22kW AC. Most in the UK are only a measly 7.2kW and a significant number are even worse at 3.6kW. How many years will it take for the UK to catch up with Eastern Europe?

    • Jonathan Tracey

      There are significant numbers (hundereds) of rapid chargers along the UK motorway networks already, yes in the towns there are 7kw and some 3kw chargers. Its really about the availabiliyt of the supply, a car park I use in London has 4 Tesla Superchargers at 120kw + 12 7kw type 2 chargers, Most motorway services now have at least 1 rapid charger and sometimes 2, I dont see that as lagging behind anyone

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