Fiat Downing StreetFiat Downing Street


Fiat calls on government to reinstate plug-in car grant to boost EV demand

  • Car manufacturer wants the government to help car buyers make the switch to EV
  • Plug in car grant was axed in 2022 but at the time EV sales were surging
  • Now ban has been pushed back to 2035 EV demand among retail buyers has dwindled

Time 7:17 am, February 20, 2024

Car maker Fiat has called on the government to reintroduce the plug-in car grant as sales of electric cars falter.

The Italian car maker has renewed its calls for support for the industry as manufacturers face hitting EV sales targets of 22% in 2024.

Car makers face punishing fines of up to £15,000 per car they miss their targets by this year and they’re already leaning hard on their dealers to hit the targets.

One dealer group boss told Car Dealer this week that the targets they had been given for 2024 were heavily weighted towards ‘unachievable’ EV sales.

Fiat issued a call today to ministers following electric vehicle sales to private buyers falling 25.1% year on year in January.

‘More needs to be done,’ said Damien Dally, Fiat UK managing director.

‘Consumers need further support to have a reason to make the switch to electric.

‘The electric car market in this country is in real jeopardy. Private sales, as opposed to business and fleets, are softening and that’s a trend that needs a collective effort to reverse.

‘With the Spring Budget just around the corner, we are urging the government to reintroduce incentives for consumers or face stifling, or even undoing, all the good work achieved to date and risking endangering net zero climate targets. 

‘We’re doing our bit, but there’s only so far we can go.’

The plug-in car grant originally gave car buyers £5,000 off hybrid and electric vehicles. The hybrid discount was pulled in November 2018 while the EV offer continued.

The EV discount was then reduced significantly over the following years until it was closed completely in 2022. By then it was worth just £1,500 on EVs costing less than £32,000.

At the time, the Department for Transport said it was refocusing its efforts on tackling public charging infrastructure instead of incentivising sales. 

However, at the time, EV sales were surging, but since prime minister Rishi Sunak pushed back the ban on petrol and diesel cars to 2035, interest in EVs among private buyers has dropped off a cliff. 

Fiat’s call follows a report from the House of Lords report into the EV market which also suggested incentives were needed to push EV sales.

Speaking to Car Dealer, chair of the inquiry Baroness Parminter said she believed financial incentives were needed now to boost EV sales.

She said: ‘When Rishi Sunak rolled back on the deadline last year he used the term “getting to net zero is going to be hard” – that’s not what the public needs to hear. 

‘They need to see the government putting some skin in the game on this now. If there was a commitment to immediately consult on the necessary fiscal incentives for both new cars and secondhand cars, that would be a win.’

The report also highlighted successful schemes in Scotland and the Netherlands that incentivised the sale of second hand EVs.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes wants to see cash on the table from the government to boost EV demand.

He said: ‘While manufacturers offer a vast range of zero-emission vehicles, demand must match supply.

‘Delivering a buoyant EV market means giving all consumers the confidence to invest, which requires an attractive package of fiscal incentives, mandated infrastructure targets and a consistent message that encourages drivers to switch now.’

Main image: Digitally created by Fiat

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

More stories...

Heycar Advert
Server 108