Under the rules, electric cars such as the Citroen C-Zero will be eligible for a discount of £5,000 when it arrives in the UK in the summer. The Renault Fluence, Twizy and Zoe will also be able to take advantage of any discount if it is still running when they arrive in 2012.
The criteria applies only to cars and includes CO2 tailpipe emissions of less than 75g/km – a figure which may rule out some full hybrid cars. It will however, apply to the Vauxhall Ampera extended range electric vehicle when it arrives in UK showrooms.
All electric vehicles must have a minimum range of 70 miles, while hybrid or E-REV vehicles must have an all-electric range of at least ten miles.
To qualify, the cars are required to have a top speed of at least 60mph and have the required safety rating.
Probably the most important criteria laid out by the government refers to the battery performance and warranty of electric cars – a major criticism of electric technology.
All vehicles should have a three year or 60,000 mile warranty as well as a three year battery warranty with an option for a further two year extension. With the rebadged Ampera, the Chevrolet Volt, currently offered with an eight year warranty in the US, Vauxhall will be confident it can meet this criteria.
On announcing the details of the grant, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will transform the way we see motoring in the 21st century allowing the benefits that the private car delivers without destroying the planet in the process.”
To improve the recharging network in the UK, the government will now focus on 15 bids from places interested in being chosen for the Plugged-In-Places infrastructure programme. So far £8.8m has been awarded to London, Milton Keynes and the North East under the scheme.