U.K. Cuts Incentives for Hybrids, EVs

Demand in the U.K. for plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars is likely to drop sharply this month after the government slashed incentives for such vehicles.

Until last Friday, buyers of cars that can travel at least 70 miles in electric mode received a £4,500 ($5,800) discount, Autocar notes. Plug-ins with a lesser electric range were eligible for £2,500 ($3,200).

Now incentives for hybrids have been dropped entirely, and discounts on all-electric cars fell to £3,500 ($4,500). The new EV scheme will cover the sale of the next 35,000 EVs, but the government hasn’t revealed what steps it may take thereafter to create demand for ultra-low-emission vehicles.

The incentive program has been applied to the purchase of more than 160,000 vehicles since it began in 2011, according to the government. It adds that the cost of EVs has dropped significantly over that period, making incentives less critical.

The decision comes only three months after the government released its “Road to Zero” emission strategy. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders calls the government’s timing “astounding” and warns that the policy change sends “yet more confusing signals to car buyers.”