Businesses encouraged to go green with low carbon vehicle grant

The Government has announced the first seven vans eligible for its new Plug-in Van Grant scheme which offers businesses and private buyers tax breaks of 20 per cent- up to £8,000 - off the cost of the selected low emission vehicles.

The grant, an extension of the Plug-in Car Grant for domestic cars, was announced last month and will form part of ambitious Government emission targets that hope to reduce carbon emissions and help improve city air quality. Any van that meets the strict low emission criteria can be covered by the grant which is already being backed by major British firms.

As well as receiving tax breaks with the scheme, businesses who use electric vans can also benefit from reduced refuelling costs, zero-rate company car tax, capital allowance concessions and, for those driving in London, a 100% dicount for the congestion charge, making them an attractive choice for large business' fleets.

Transport secretary Justine Greening said: "Our new grant demonstrates that you can be a motorist and still be pro-environment.

"Cars and vans are absolutely central to people's lives - it's how most of us get around and for many journeys they are, and will remain, the only practical and convenient travel choice. Nevertheless climate change is a global challenge we simply have to meet head on. It cannot be ignored or side-stepped."

According to the Department for Transport (DFT), business vans are ideally suited to electric usage as they often have fixed duty cycles, make frequent stops, and regularly return to base where they can easily recharge.

The DFT also argue that small electric vans are more economically efficient, estimating they cost £100 less in fuel for every thousand miles driven compared to that of a diesel equivalent.

The initial cost of electric vans can, however, be double the price of a diesel equivalent and some sceptics are keen to point out their small distance range - the average range of an electric van is just 100 miles.

Business minister Mark Prisk, who was also at the announcement, said: "Vans are essential to the smooth running of so many businesses and contribute enormously to the UK economy. An upfront purchase grant, when combined with lower running costs and tax benefits, can make switching to an ultra low carbon van an attractive choice for those businesses.

"Now there are seven different models eligible for that support van buyers should be able to choose one they find easy on the eye as well as on the wallet."