At the beginning of January, purchasers of electric cars were eligible for grants of up to £5000 per car purchase. Most electric cars cost £25,000 and above so UK tax-payers will be subsidising rich motorists to the tune of up to £43m, with a further £255m to be spent on electric car charging points.
Purchasers of electric bicycles receive zero subsidy.
Emissions from electric cars - and, to a much lesser extent, electric bicycles - are shifted from cities to source, usually coal-fed power stations. Electric cars are quiet (too quiet say organisations representing pedestrians with limited vision) but have the same footprint as cars with internal combustion engines. Electric cars cannot cure congestion, another of the modern world's major ills.
However, the RAC Foundation believes UK tax-payers should fund even greater subsidies for electric cars.
The RAC Foundation report said "financial incentives are likely to be needed in order to stimulate mass consumer demand."
(Shockingly, the report also said "taxes, such as Vehicle Excise Duty…confer the right to use the public road network", a mistake that the RAC Foundation has made in a number of previous reports. Motorists do not pay for roads, all tax payers pay for roads).
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “While the current subsidies are welcome they are only a start.”
Spending £300m on reducing the prices of congestion-causing cars to increase take-up is seen as perfectly reasonable but then why isn't there a similar scheme to subsidise the purchase of bicycles?
The Cycle to Work scheme is a tax-break, not eligible to all, and is fiendishly difficult to implement. If the Coalition Government really was the "greenest Government ever", as it likes to claim, perhaps subsidies for purchasing bicycles and installing more infrastructure would have greater impact on carbon emissions?