In 2019, the UK government committed to achieving the ambitious goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

That same year, the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) recommended that all new vehicle sales should be electric motors by 2035 to meet that ambitious goal. It became evident that the government, automakers, and various stakeholders needed to act fast to increase the adoption of electric vehicles.

Come with us as we take a look at the many incentives that have been announced to encourage consumers to ditch internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) for zero-emission vehicles.

5 government incentives to increase EV adoption rates

In recent years, there have been countless regulations designed to promote electric car sales. We have outlined the following five legislations that have provided consumers with even more incentive to make the switch to EV models.

1. Plug-in car grant

Originally launched in 2011, this legislation, which cost an estimated £250 million, was designed to make electric vehicles more affordable to consumers.

This grant provided customers purchasing a new electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid a discount of £5,000 off the listed price. This incentive was made available automatically to consumers as car dealers would include the discount in the advertised price.

Hailed by many in the auto industry as a breakthrough, its effect on the sector was undeniable. The government has cited it as the main contributor to the increase in EV sales between 2011 (1,000) and the first five months of 2022 (100,000).

However, this government generosity was in decline at the start of 2016 as the available discount began to be drastically reduced. Check out the table below to see how the plug-in grant started to decline throughout the years:

Jun 2022Closed to new orders
Oct 2022Extended to March 2023 due to supply chain issues

2. Used electric vehicle loan

As more and more electric vehicles are being sold, the used EV market will continue to grow, offering an affordable alternative to brand-new cars for those on lower incomes. It is estimated that a used electric motor could be bought for as little as half the price of a new EV.

A used electric car could be bought for as little as half the price of a new EV. Source:
An advert for a second-hand Nissan Leaf selling for £12,998.

The Scottish government understands the importance of the used car market in regard to the adoption of EVs. They implemented the used electric vehicle loan to support consumers buying from dealerships. To be eligible for this incentive, you must:

  • not own another pure electric vehicle

  • have a valid driving licence

  • not receive any other form of support towards purchasing the vehicle

  • be the owner of the vehicle

  • be able to repay the loan within five years

Take a look at the interest-free loans available for the different types of electric vehicles in the table below:

Type of EV vehicleMax cost of vehicleAvailable loan
Hydrogen vehicleN/AReviewed on a case-by-case basis

This loan provided by Energy Saving Trust and funded by Transport Scotland can be applied for by using this online form. You will be requested to provide the following information:

  • at least six years of your address history

  • payment slips to confirm your income

  • confirmation that you will not purchase the vehicle before receiving the offer

Source: Energy Saving Trust

3. Vehicle excise duty (VED)

This annual tax is applied to most types of vehicles that use public roads to help further fund maintenance, research, and public transport.

Cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017 that produced over 100g per km were applicable for this tax. This was to change in 2017 when the legislation was revised so that any vehicle that was not zero-emission was now eligible to be charged Vehicle Excise Duty. You can view the first-year tax rates in the table below:

CO2 emissionsDiesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48)All other diesel cars (TC49)Alternative fuel cars (TC59)
1 to 50g/km£10£30£0
51 to 75g/km£30£130£20
76 to 90g/km£130£165£120
91 to 100g/km£165£185£155
101 to 110g/km£185£210£175
111 to 130g/km£210£255£200
131 to 150g/km£255£645£245
151 to 170g/km£645£1,040£635
171 to 190g/km£1,040£1,565£1,030
191 to 225g/km£1,565£2,220£1,555
226 to 255g/km£2,220£2,605£2,210
Over 255g/km£2,605£2,605£2,595
Source: GOV.UK

This tax is reduced in subsequent tax periods, as can be seen in the following table:

Rates for second tax payment onwards
Fuel typeSingle 12 month paymentSingle 12 month payment by Direct DebitTotal of 12 monthly payments by Direct DebitSingle 6 month paymentSingle 6 month payment by Direct Debit
Petrol or diesel£180£180£189£99£94.50
Source: GOV.UK

There is also an additional cost of £390 a year for vehicles with a list price worth over £40,000.

This exemption is an incredible benefit that encourages EV ownership as a means to avoid heavy-duty taxes. Unfortunately, from April 2025, this incentive will be no more as electric vehicles will no longer be exempt. Drivers will be forced to pay the lowest tax rate and, most likely, the expensive supplements for vehicles worth over £40,000.

4. OZEV EV chargepoint grant

One massive hurdle the automotive industry has faced with introducing electric vehicles to the masses is a lack of solid charging infrastructure. It is estimated that at least one in two drivers avoid purchasing an electric car due to the lack of charging points.

One way to overcome this general fear is to make home chargers a much more affordable option. The OZEV grant (Office of Zero Emission Vehicles) reduces the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging station by up to £350. It is available to both homeowners who own a flat and individuals living in rented accommodation.

The OZEV grant (Office of Zero Emission Vehicles) reduces the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging station by up to £350.

To be eligible for this grant, you must meet the following criteria:

  • own, lease, or use one of the 254 qualifying vehicles – it is important to note that most battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are included, but plug-in hybrids must have emissions under 50g/km

  • own a property with off-street parking

  • must not have already claimed the grant

To claim this remarkable offer, simply contact an authorised installer to start your claim, and you will receive an email with an online form.

5. Workplace charging scheme

This scheme is available to businesses, registered charities, and public sector organisations that meet the following criteria. These institutions must have:

  • received less than £200,000 of public support within the last three financial years

  • a need for EV charging infrastructure

  • the desire to encourage electric vehicle adoption amongst their employees or fleet

  • designated off-street parking

  • own the property or have consent from the landlord for the installation

Once accepted, these businesses will have access to a grant that covers 75% of the overall cost of the equipment and installation of a workplace charging station.

However, there are some restrictions that include:

  • the loan is capped at £350 per socket

  • the loan covers a total of forty sockets per applicant

Interested parties must fill out an online application form, and successful candidates will receive a voucher via email within five working days. This discount code must be handed to an approved installer, who can claim the grant from the OZEV within six months of the issue date.

The workplace charging scheme is available to businesses, registered charities, and public sector organisations.
A 5-step guide to applying for the workplace charging scheme. 1 Find the application form 2 Fill out the basic information 3 Confirm your companies house id 4 provide your site location and 5 provide contact details for the applicant

Incentives from across the pond

President Biden is a huge advocate for the electrification of both passenger cars and commercial transport. He has repeatedly emphasised the importance of electric vehicles in the battle against climate change.

Check out some of the different types of incentives that are found across the USA in the table below:

Type of incentiveBenefit
Many U.S. states offer financial incentives, such as rebates or tax creditsThese can lower the price of leasing or purchasing an EV
Some states provide grants or tax incentives to support the development ofEV charging stationsThis encourages electric vehicle adoption by reducing ‘range anxiety’ and providing a stable charging infrastructure
Several states allow EVs to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, even with a single occupantThis perk helps reduce commuting time for electric car drivers
Some states offer discounted registration fees or exemptions for EVsThis helps reduce the cost of owning an EV
Certain states have adopted stricter emission standards, such as the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandateThese regulations require automakers to produce and sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles, increasing their availability
Other states offer incentives or mandates for public entities and businesses to incorporate EVs into their fleetsThis helps accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the commercial sector
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was announced to expand the domestic manufacturing ofEV batteries: it granted twenty companies a combined total of $2.8bn to build facilities to extract lithium, graphite, and other essential raw materialsThis law promotes the growth of the electric vehicle industry in the US
The Inflation Reduction Act offers consumers who purchase a qualifying electric vehicle before 2032 a tax credit of up to $7,500The Inflation Reduction Act is a key driving force behind lowering the prices of electric vehicles

Key takeaway

Throughout the years, governments from across the globe have implemented countless measures and incentives to promote electric vehicle adoption. However, as seen in this blog, it seems that governing bodies are quick to retract these benefits at any sign of success.

This is a peculiar strategy and one that does not bode well for the worldwide endeavour to utilise clean energy and promote sustainability. To realistically achieve these lofty goals, both governing bodies and large car manufacturers, such as Tesla, Toyota, and General Motors, must come together to create viable benefits for EV drivers.