Current climate makes it ‘almost impossible’ to get private buyers into electric cars – Fiat boss

  • Government isn’t incentivising EV purchasing enough, says Fiat UK MD
  • Fiat has had to adapt its strategy in the UK to reflect buying habits
  • Italian brand originally intended to only offer 600 with electric power in Britain

Time 7:34 am, March 1, 2024

The current car buying climate makes it ‘almost impossible’ to get private buyers into electric vehicles as ‘there seems nothing coming from the government’ to accelerate the take-up of battery-powered vehicles. 

That’s according to Damien Dally, managing director of Fiat UK, who spoke exclusively to Car Dealer Magazine at the launch of the firm’s new 600 in the Cotswolds.

The 600 will be available as both an electric and hybrid vehicle, giving buyers an option of powertrains. It does, however, mark a broadening of Fiat’s approach as more buyers look away from a traditional EV. 

‘What we’ve done is adapted our strategy because clearly the adoption of electrification in the UK – and it’s not specific to the UK, by the way – is really, really slow. And there seems [to be] nothing coming from the government to accelerate that. 

‘Basically, the adoption of electric cars is slowing and the trend is negative – it’s not positive. So rather than stick to our original plan, we’ve adapted it.’

Dally also called on the government to reinstate the plug-in car grant for electric vehicles, which ended on June 14, 2022. At the time, it reduced an electric vehicle’s cost by £1,500, with government ministers stating that it was being culled after having ‘successfully kickstarted the electric car market’. 

Fiat currently has its own electric vehicle grant – the Fiat e-Grant – which brings a £3,000 incentive off the cost of one of the firm’s EVs. 

However, Dally said that the government needed ‘to be commended in certain areas’, for its help with Motability customers and business users looking to make the switch to electric.

But he added that the plug-in grant’s removal represented the government ‘getting off the train a bit too early’ and argued that the rowing back of the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 meant that consumers would also postpone their decisions to buy an EV. 

‘If you’re a consumer, you go ‘there’s no reason for me to do it now. Actually, the government have walked it back, so I’ll sit on it for a bit’.’

Dally’s words come as the SMMT has urged the chancellor to use next Wednesday’s Budget to get the UK’s shift to electric vehicles back in the fast lane.

Jack Evans's avatar

Jack Evans is the head of editorial for Car Dealer parent company Blackball Media. An experienced motoring journalist, he covers the latest car launches, motoring news and produces a variety of features for this website.

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