The Department for Transport has announced that the electric-car ‘plug-in” subsidy scheme is being closed with immediate effect. This decision ends grants worth £1,500 towards the purchase of electric cars and ‘refocusses’ the funds on improving electric vehicle charging.
Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, said:
The Bicycle Association, representing the UK cycling industry, is disappointed that the Government decision to ‘refocus’ the electric car subsidy has not taken the opportunity to focus some of these funds on boosting the green electric transport option offered by electric bicycles. E-bikes are bicycles with electric assist technology which make cycling more accessible and convenient, extending range, levelling hills and dismissing headwinds. They are the most efficient and sustainable of all zero emission electric vehicles for the 71% of short trips which are less than 5 miles* They need to be seen as an important part of the shift to electric vehicles, decarbonising our transport and our towns and cities.
While many in the cycling industry, including Bicycle Association members, have worked hard to expand the range of e-bikes available and ensure there are affordable options, for many people, especially those in lower income groups, the purchase of an e-bike is still a significant outlay, despite its negligible running costs.
Direct subsidies have proven in several European countries to be very effective in helping people manage the initial cost. In Germany, where Government incentives have been in operation, e-bike sales have grown to nearly 15 times those in the UK in 2021**. In the UK latest sales figures for e-bikes remain flat
The Bicycle Association believes that the best way to get more people on e-bikes—also reducing the carbon emissions of UK cities—is through a national direct purchase subsidy scheme.
It compiled evidence from many schemes around the world in the 2019 report: The Case for a UK Incentive for E-bikes commissioned from independent researchers Transport for Quality of Life.
*National Travel Survey, DfT, 2020
** Bicycle Association Market Data Service tracks over 1m products per month in the UK cycling market, collecting data from over 70% of the market by value.