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UK electric car sales decline after incentive is cut

Sales of electric cars have fallen sharply after the UK government cut a grant scheme that encouraged drivers to switch from petrol.

According to Department for Transport statistics, between April and June 4,200 plug-in cars were sold – the lowest for two years.

The government announced last year that it would extend grants for electric cars for a further two years but halved the payments to £2,500. Around 17,500 cars were registered in the first three months of the year as motorists took advantage of the grants before they were cut.

The Department for Transport was criticised for its “lack of strategy” in encouraging green car sales in an environmental audit select committee report published earlier this month (September).

Electric cars have often been seen as a challenger to cars that run on biofuels.

Biofuels uptake down

Transport’s lack of progress was also highlighted recently, when the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) noted that biofuel uptake fell from 3.2% in 2014 to 2.5% in 2015. More broadly, the CCC also pointed out that the power sector could not be expected in the medium term to continue being the main contributor to decarbonisation. Other sectors, including transport, would need to make more effort.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "The uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles like electric cars, is too low to meet the UK's climate change targets at the lowest cost to the public. Air quality targets that were supposed to be met in 2010 won't be hit until 2020 at the earliest. And it's been almost a year since we discovered VW had fitted cars with cheat devices, but government has still to decide what action to take against the company.”