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In a bid to stimulate demand for low carbon vehicles, transport secretary Philip Hammond today confirmed that, from January 2011, motorists will be entitled to a “Plug-In Car Grant” of up to £5000 when buying an electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell car on the proviso that the vehicle meets safety, reliability, performance and warranty standards as set by the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV).

This £5000 grant, however, will not be a “grant” as such. Rather, it will come in the form of a 25% discount from the list price of all eligible vehicles up to the value of £5000. To coincide, a “Plugged-In Places” initiative will be put into place which will allow for cities to bid for funding for the installation of appropriate infrastructures. So far, over 11,000 charging posts are to be installed in London, Milton Keynes and the North East with such areas as the West Midlands, Cornwall, Sheffield, Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland already confirmed as intending to bid.

Car manufacturers have been quick to voice their support for the scheme. Renault UK's new Managing Director  Thierry Sybord says: “We’re convinced that our range of 100% electric cars and vans are going to appeal to a wide cross-section of private individual and business customers in their own right, with an exciting combination of innovation, style and technology. Now, with this financial incentive in place, their affordability and lower running costs make the financial argument for electric vehicles, compared to conventional fossil-fuelled vehicles, as compelling as their environmental one.

“As a result of this morning’s news, we are even more excited about encouraging as many people as possible to consider using electric vehicles to drive down vehicle emissions, or as we say here at Renault, ‘Drive the Change’.”

Meanwhile, Nissan have issued a gentle reminder that their zero emission Leaf model will go on sale in the UK in March 2011 and, taking into consideration the new government incentive, will be priced at around £23,990 (plus VAT). No tailpipe, they stress, means no emissions.