What is the Plug-in Car Grant?

  • Plug-in Car Grant extended to 2023
  • Amount reduced from £3,500 to £3,000
  • EVs costing more than £50,000 now not included

Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles are surging in number – with the total rising every month, at the expense of pure petrol and diesel sales.

To encourage adoption, the UK government introduced a scheme called the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) back in 2011 – around the time that the first-generation Nissan Leaf hit the market as a truly usable electric vehicle. At launch, the scheme provided a £5,000 cash incentive off the list price of a qualifying vehicle, and aimed to help reduce emissions and improve air quality through increased takeup of zero-emissions vehicles.

BMW i3 charging

With greater numbers of EVs (electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) now on the roads, the government revised the PiCG in 2016, 2018, and again in 2020 reducing its scope to reflect the increase in the popularity of zero-emission vehicles.

If you bought an eligible car before 2016, the PiCG paid £5,000 towards its list price. This was reduced to £4,500 in 2016, or just £2,500 for plug-in hybrids. In 2018 the scheme was reduced further, with full EVs now receiving a grant of £3,500 while PHEVs now receive no grant at all.

In the Spring 2020 Budget, this was further reduced to £3,000, and has been adjusted so that EVs costing more than £50,000 are no longer eligible. The good news is that the 'temporary measure' has been extended to run until at least 2023.

Do I qualify for the PiCG?

When classifying vehicles for the plug-in car grant, the government split low-emissions vehicles into three categories:

>> Category 1 vehicles have a zero-emissions range of at least 70 miles, and quoted CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km.

>> Category 2 vehicles have a zero-emissions range of at least 10 miles, and quoted CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km.

>> Category 3 vehicles have a zero-emissions range of at least 20 miles, and quoted CO2 emissions of between 50-70g/km.

Vehicles qualifying for Category 1 are eligible for the full grant – 30% of the car’s value, up to a maximum of £3,000. Though it’s not specified as such, the requirements to meet this category realistically only apply to fully electric vehicles – as well as the few hydrogen-powered models on sale.

Before 2018, Category 2 and 3 vehicles used to qualify for a maximum grant of £2,500 – provided they had a list price of less than £60,000. However, reforms to the grant now mean only Category 1 vehicles are eligible for any cash discount.

There’s still some help available for buyers of Category 2 and 3 vehicles, though – those that are plug-in hybrids can get up to £500 off the cost of installing a home charger through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.

A full list of eligible vehicles can be found at the bottom of this page.

How do I get the PiCG?

Thankfully, there’s no legwork needed to apply for the PiCG. If you purchase an eligible car, the dealer you’re buying from will sort out all the paperwork and the grant will be deducted from the car’s list price. The PiCG only applies to new purchases – it’s not possible to get cash off the price of a used vehicle.

Fast charging

The government has committed to keeping the PiCG in place until at least 2023. After this, however, it’s unclear whether it will be reduced further or perhaps removed altogether.

What about other vehicle classes?

Motorcycles, mopeds, vans, taxis and trucks all have their own classifications and are eligible for various grant amounts under the scheme. You can find out more about the electric van grant here.

Cars that qualify for the PiCG

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