Rumours of a trade-in incentive that will see motorists being given £6,000 to swap their petrol or diesel cars for battery-powered ones have been welcomed by Swindon's leading dealer in electric vehicles.
Government sources have told The Telegraph that an official announcement – to provide 'a shot in the arm' for the UK's motor industry, and help the government meet its commitment for only electric cars to be sold new by 2035 – is expected on July 6.
The programme – which will be accompanied by a £1 billion investment in public electric vehicle charging points – is likely to mirror Gordon Brown's post-credit crunch scheme to get 'dirty diesels' off the road. The £400 million scheme saw 390,000 drivers get a £2,000 government-funded discount over a 10-month period.
Unlike the 2010 scrappage scheme, it is unlikely that cars will be destroyed, but will instead find their way back onto the used car market.
This week, Dominic Threlfall, managing director of Suzuki and Hyundai dealer Pebley Beach, said a trade-in scheme would be a major incentive in getting motorists behind the wheel of a more environmentally-friendly car.
"New car sales were down 97 percent in April and 89 percent in May," said Dom. "It's at times like this that an industry that employs 800,000 workers in the UK needs the support of government.
"While we're still unsure of the exact detail – that will be revealed in July – I'm calling for stepped financial assistance for car buyers, so that customers who want a hybrid are also incentivised."
Dom said a grant of £6,000 could be the final nudge Swindon motorists need to go green.
"The windscreen price makes it look like electric cars are much more expensive than their petrol or diesel equivalent," said Dom. "But the cost of ownership – including fuel, road tax, and maintaining the vehicle – makes electric vehicle ownership more compelling."
Pre-pandemic research by Pebley Beach suggested that driving a £18,555 petrol-driven 1.0 T-GDi Hyundai Kona PLAY for 20 miles a day at 119.6p per litre would cost £2.89 per journey – or £1,055 a year – in fuel.
Driving the equivalent £29,220 39kWh Premium 100kW Hyundai Kona EV, at a home electricity cost of 16.5p per kilowatt, would cost 78p a journey – or £285 a year.
"That's an annual saving of £770 a year or £2,310 over three years on fuel costs alone," said Dom. "Add a road tax saving of £435 over three years and the £6,000 trade-in incentive and the gap between the cost of owning a petrol or diesel and electric vehicle for three years is pretty much the same."
Dom said a trade-in scheme would also encourage car shoppers back into showrooms. "In March we were told to close by the government and consequently I had no option other than to furlough all our staff," said Dom. "Our workshop staff have now returned to carry out MOTs and services, and we're bringing back sales staff as demand increases.
"We've also introduced measures that are likely to become part of our 'new normal' like booked appointments to visit the showroom, unaccompanied test drives, and personalised video handovers – which are great because if you forget what all the buttons do in your new car in the excitement of picking up it, you can refer back to the video later."
Dom said he was confident that showroom stock plus cars in the delivery pipeline was sufficient to meet the demand created by the trade-in scheme, especially if it includes hybrids. "Every Hyundai and Suzuki model is now, or will soon be, available in a hybrid variant," he said.
"New cars can be reserved with a £99 refundable fee," said Dom, "so it's worth anyone considering a new electric or hybrid vehicle booking an early appointment, getting some expert advice and getting their name at the top of list ready for the government announcement in July."
In October last year, Pebley Beach became the first dealership in Swindon to be accredited by EVA, the Electric Vehicle Approved scheme. It is still only one of two Swindon dealerships to hold the accreditation.
Pictured: Spot the difference – there's already very little difference between an electric (left) and petrol (right) Hyundai Kona, and with a trade-in scheme that could include the price of ownership too.