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February 22, 2012

'Van-tastic' UK Scheme Offers Payback up to $12,500 for Purchase of Plug-in Vehicle
By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

Supporting the move toward electric vehicles in the United Kingdom has become a win-win proposition: The government gets more green vehicles on the road (and, therefore, less smog and CO2) and buyers reap a generous reimbursement in “folding green.”

At an event at County Hall, London, on February 21, Transport Secretary Justine Greening and Business Minister Mark Prisk announced the first seven models eligible under the United Kingdom’s new Plug-in Van Grant, which will reimburse both consumer and corporate buyers for buying electric. Van buyers will be able to receive 20 percent —up to £8,000 (or about US$12,500) — off the cost of this first wave of plug-in vans.

The program, announced last month, represents an expansion of the UK’s popular Plug-in Car Grant scheme, under which about 900 electric cars were purchased by consumers in 2011. Under that program, motorists who buy a qualifying ultra-low-emission car can receive a grant of 25 percent toward the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum of £5,000 (or about US$7,800).

Addressing the crowd at County Hall, Greening stated, “Our new grant demonstrates that you can be a motorist and still be pro-environment. Cars and vans are absolutely central to people’s lives. It’s how most of us get around and, for many journeys, they are and will remain the only practical and convenient travel choice. Nevertheless, climate change is a global challenge we simply have to meet head-on. It cannot be ignored or side-stepped.”

He pointed out that, in addition to providing a rebate, the new program “makes business sense” because “It’s been estimated that a small electric van will typically cost £100 [US$156.75] less in fuel for every thousand miles driven compared to a diesel equivalent.”

Specifically, according to the UK government, businesses that now choose to run electric vans:

Enjoy reduced refueling costs,

• Are exempt from the van benefit charge,
• Attract capital allowance concessions, and
• Receive a 100 percent discount for the congestion charge in the London.

In addition, said Greening, “The way that vans are used and driven make them ideally suited to the switch to electric as they often have a predictable route and distance to travel; they make frequent stops; and many of them return to an overnight base where they can be easily recharged.”

Photo: Mercedes Vito E-Cell electric van

The first seven makes and models of plug-in vans to be made eligible for the grants are:

• Azure Dynamics (Oak Park, Michigan) – Transit Connect Electric
• Daimler Mercedes-Benz (Stuttgart, Germany) – Vito E-Cell
• Faam (Monterubbiano, Italy) – ECOMILE
• Faam (Monterubbiano, Italy) – JOLLY 2000
• Mia-electric (Cerizay, France) – Mia U
• Renault (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) – Kangoo ZE variants: Kangoo VAN ZE, Kangoo Van Maxi ZE, and Kangoo Van Maxi Crew ZE
• Smith Electric (Kansas City, Missouri) – Smith Edison variants: SE2 and SE3

At the launch event, Gearoid Lane, managing director of British Gas New Markets, which has announced its ambition to have hundreds of electric vans in its fleets over the next few years, commented, “Extending electric car grants to cover fleet vehicles is a positive step in lowering emissions on our roads. With our network of engineers repairing boilers around the country, we are keen to include electric vans in our own fleet, with hundreds scheduled to be introduced over the next few years. We are also at the forefront of helping people with their own electric cars by installing charge points in homes up and down Britain.”

Business Minister Mark Prisk remarked, “Vans are essential to the smooth running of so many businesses and contribute enormously to the UK economy. An upfront purchase grant, when combined with lower running costs and tax benefits, can make switching to an ultra-low-carbon van an attractive choice for those businesses.”

The Chief Executive of the London-based Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Paul Everitt, said, “The Plug-In Van Grant and today’s detail on the seven models eligible is excellent news for van drivers, operators, businesses, and the industry. The savings on the initial purchase price, coupled with the tax advantages and very low running costs make a plug-in van an attractive proposition—particularly for those running local and back-to-base services.”

Everitt added, “Home to a high level of low carbon R&D and manufacturing activity, the UK is well-placed to take full advantage of the ultra-low-carbon vehicle sector. Incentives that support the development of a flourishing market will add to our competitive advantage.”

Dame Ellen MacArthur, whose charity, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, based in Cowes, England, already uses an electric van, said: “We’ve been running a Renault electric van to help with the work of my foundation and it is working really well for us. Today’s announcement means people will have more choice about the kinds of vans that they can drive and I am pleased to support this initiative.”

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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