Electric cars grants go unclaimed

The Government's £11m spending on plug-in vehicles has failed to persuade drivers to make the switch to electric, according to a critical new parliamentary report.

So far only a "handful" of motorists have benefitted from grants of up to £5,000 available from the Department for Transport towards the purchase of plug-in electric cars.

A large number of those who have received grants are from wealthy families and are planning to use the plug-in as a second car, the House of Commons Transport Committee report reveals.

The transport department is backing plug-ins as a means of cutting down on CO2 emissions, and has created a network of more than 1,600 charging points across the UK.

The report questions whether the £11m spent has been a cost-effective use of taxpayers' money, and accuses the Government of sending out "mixed messages" with a change to tax incentives for early adopters of plug-in vehicles in March's Budget.

John Lewis, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), said: "Companies and drivers still have a lot of uncertainty about this new technology and these cars aren't going to start selling in serious numbers until the Government undertakes a major review of its strategy and incentives."

Electric vehicles are available on a variety of car finance plans, and are exempt from vehicle tax and the London congestion charge.

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