Gov’t offers grants for e-cars, e-vans, e-motorbikes but not e-bikes

The UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles offers grants to purchase electric cars, vans, and motorbikes, but will not offer similar grants to would-be purchasers of electric cycles and cargobikes. In 2014, the Bicycle Association raised the inequity of similar e-vehicle sweeteners, available since 2010, and the government promised to "consider" the funding disparity. 

According to tweets from the OLEV, there are no plans to, er, plug the gap. 

OLEV told urban planner Tom Harrison that the grants are "available to bridge the cost gap between [electric vehicle] and [internal combustion engine] equivalent road vehicles."

Harrison, a trustee of London Cycling Campaign, replied: "How do e-motorbikes & e-bikes differ in that respect?"

OLEV responded: "There aren’t petrol or diesel powered bicycles," and added that "not sure there are many people considering a petrol motorcycle than could be persuaded to buy a bicycle instead."

OLEV, which is a part of the Department for Transport, calls e-vehicles "plug in vehicles." Bicycles are vehicles in law but when the DfT talks about ‘plug in vehicles’ it only ever means electric cars, vans and motorbikes.

Back in 2013, BikeBiz pointed out that the government is happy to subsidise the purchase of low emission e-cars, but won’t offer the same support for non-emitting bicycles.

Meanwhile, in France there’s a new €200 grant to help purchase e-bikes, and in Oslo there’s a $1,200 grant to help purchase electric cargobikes.

It’s important to note that the OLEV subsidy scheme is not like the long-running Cycle to Work Scheme. That’s a salary sacrifice, not a grant, and is not available to everybody. Anybody with cash can get an OLEV grant to buy an e-car, e-van or e-motorbike. The paperwork is handled by the motor dealer. The "plug in vehicle" grants are, in effect, free money, no strings attached. 

The latest OLEV grants are up to £4,500 for an e-car, £8,000 for an e-van and £1,500 for an e-motorbike.

In a separate but linked development the government has announced it is to introduce a bill forcing motorway services and large out-of-town retailers to provide charging points for plug-in vehicles.

Motoring, it seems, is considered as a "national" priority, while cycling is considered "local" and therefore less important and subject to the whims of local politicians and funding streams.

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