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Vertu boss attacks government

Thursday 22 November 2012 5:26

Government policy on electric vehicles has been slammed by the chief executive of one of the UK’s largest motor dealerships.

Chief executive of Gateshead-based Vertu Motors (which trades under the Bristol Street Motors, Macklin Motors, Vertu Honda brands) Robert Forrester has accused the government of not doing enough to stimulate electric vehicle take up and has criticised plans to introduce a benefit-in-kind tax on electric vehicle company car drivers from 2015.

Forrester said the success of electric vehicles in the UK will be determined by its uptake by company fleets.

He said: “At Bristol Street Motors we have offered lots of test drives across our electric vehicle range and private buyers have been enthusiastic. However, fleet buyers are always vital when it comes to mass produced vehicles and the tax incentives, in the form of company car benefit-in-kind rules, are central to their decisions.

“The EV market is in danger of being completely written off, as the benefit-in-kind zero rating is due to change in 2015/16. Now, more than ever, the government needs to be encouraging growth and sales of electric vehicles and channelling funding to support the industry and its UK supply chain.”

“With no current plans for a re-launch of the electric vehicle company car benefit-in-kind allowance, the government is not exactly banging the drum to inspire and stimulate sales within the EV market.”

Forrester warned that company car drivers would be discouraged from choosing EV cars and hybrids, which cost significantly more than traditional cars, because their benefit in kind charge is based on the list price.

He also urged the government to extend EV grants and tax incentives beyond a 2015 cut-off.

He added: “The government’s plans to retract tax incentives and grants are in danger of undermining the whole market, yet it has the money available. Just £12m of the £300m set aside by the government for electric car grants has been used since the scheme came into effect in 2011. The fund is set to expire in 2015 and I think the timescale to use the remaining EV grant allocation needs to be extended. It should continue until the fund is exhausted with the possibility of further sales grants in the period 2015-2018.”

He pointed out that Denmark offers potential tax savings equivalent to £16,492 per electric vehicle compared to just £5,112 in the UK and he said that if the proposed changes go ahead, Britain will be left with one of the least attractive incentive schemes in Europe.

Vertu Motors has 88 sales outlets across the UK with 19 franchises.