In the UK government drive to have a carbon neutral country as soon as possible, they’ve moved the goalposts once again. Now, they’re saying we won’t be able to buy a normally powered internal combustion (IC) engined car after 2030, and you won’t be able to buy a normally powered bike after 2035. That’s scarily soon. But there are some big problems; Fundamental problems. They’re too expensive, they don’t go far enough and there aren’t enough charging points.
To help us transition though, and to make EV motorcycles a more realistic proposition, the government are determined to do their bit. Or they were until last week.
Because up until the 15th of December 2021, if you wanted to help save the planet and buy yourself an electric motorbike (or scooter) you’d get a generous little grant from the UK government. It was £1,500 or 20% (whichever was the least). That’s going to make a big difference to a lot of people. Probably, in a lot of cases, the difference between buying one or not. The difference between going EV or IC. Because electric bikes (like electric cars) are still massively more expensive than their IC equivalents.
Last week though, with little or no warning, the Department for Transport announced changes to the EV motorcycle grants, to be adopted with immediate effect. Now, anything over the value of £10,000 is not eligible for any form of grant. That’s any of the ‘proper bikes’, with any genuine performance, including the entire Zero, Energica and Harley-Davidson range.
There are still grants available for electric bikes below the value of £10,000, but it’s a fraction of what it was. Now, electric motorcycles priced up to £10,000 receive 35% off, up to a maximum of £500. Mopeds will receive 35% off too, but only up to a maximum of £150; nonsense really – that means you’ll only receive the full 35% if you buy a new EV moped worth £430.
It’s already hard enough as it is persuading motorcyclists to ‘go green’, so making electric bikes more expensive overnight isn’t going to do the sector any good.
I understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that to give out these grants costs money; maybe the government have simply run out. But if they really want us all to be on electric bikes in just over 10 years’ time, they’re going to have to do a bit better. Remember, total electrification by 2035 is their goal. It’s them that want us to achieve it; so they’re going to have to help us. Scrapping a grant that has been so successful, and instrumental in convincing people to convert to EV, is preposterous.
If I’m being perfectly honest I think 2035 is an unrealistic target anyway, but that’s another story.
As it happens, Harley-Davidson and Zero have decided to step in and cover the £1,500, meaning their models will cost the same now, as they did with the grant. And that’s great but whether they can afford to continue doing that remains to be seen. In all fairness, they probably can, so let’s hope they do.
The bottom line is this. I don’t want an electric bike, and I know most of you don’t either. But the UK government want us to have them. So if they want us to bin our proper bikes for electric, they’ll have to make it worth our while. Like I said before, they are the ones that have promised zero emissions, in some ludicrously unrealistic timescale, not us.