UK automakers' lobby group, the SMMT, has welcomed the government’s renewed commitment to ultra-low carbon vehicles following the announcement that the plug-in car grant will be retained and a new plug-in van grant created – reducing the cost of eligible vans by 20% up to the value of GBP8,000.

“The [grants] send a strong signal to the global automotive industry about the UK's determination to be a leading market for ultra-low carbon vehicles,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “We will reap significant industrial and environmental benefits from establishing an early and flourishing ultra-low carbon vehicle market, attracting high value investment in R&D, innovation and automotive manufacturing.”

When lobbying for the new van grant, SMMT stressed the value of low carbon R&D and testing in the UK and the significance of the ultra-low carbon vehicle market for the country’s economy. The early development of a low carbon market in the UK brings with it vehicle trials, engineering and development functions – crucial elements that will help the UK to remain at the forefront of this emerging market.

Extending funding to the commercial vehicle world is a significant step and will be welcome news to the manufacturers of low carbon vans and those businesses looking to cut operating costs, the SMMT said. Each van qualifying for the grant must emit less than 75g/km CO2, be capable of at least 60 miles between charges (10 miles in electric mode for hybrid vans), more than 50mph and, to ensure safety, be approved by ‘European Vehicle Type Approval’.