While electric motorcycles and scooters are more expensive than their petrol-burning counterparts, government incentive programmes help many stay competitive in the market. To help more riders trade in internal combustion vehicles, countries like Austria, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the US offer subsidies on electric motorcycles and scooters.
The UK’s incentives system has been largely successful in recent years, but an unannounced, new change to the programme may threaten electric vehicle sales. Under the old regulations, consumers could count on a 20-percent subsidy up to £1,500 on any electric model.
Enacted on December 15, 2021, the new rules state that electric two-wheelers over £10,000 will no longer qualify for the programme. From now on, electric motorcycles will fetch a 35-percent discount up to £500 and electric mopeds will also offer a 35-percent price reduction but only up to £150.
“This is not a way to incentivise the consumer to think electric and buy electric products,” argued Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) Chief Executive Tony Campbell. “What this will do, clearly, is it suddenly completely changes the landscape of the affordability of an electric power two-wheeler.
“£150 is 10% of what the previous grant was, so they’ve taken 90% away,” Campbell added. “It’s purely spreadsheet politics. It’s not about decarbonisation, it is about the fact that they’ve probably overspent on other sectors and now we’re clearly paying the price as well.”
To help offset the impact on customers, Zero and Harley-Davidson/LiveWire are offering £1,500 discounts on all models above £10,000. While that Band-Aid may help consumers in the immediate future, most dealers and manufacturers can’t afford to slash prices for an extended period.
For that reason, both Zero and LiveWire are offering the £1,500 subsidy until January 31, 2022. Hopefully, that gives the British government enough time to reconsider the incentives programme changes.