The UK government is looking to give prospective buyers of electric two-wheelers a helping hand in the form of a subsidy that would cut the purchase price of such vehicles. The plan, announced by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), could rev up as early as this UK summer and is slated to run until 2020.

According to OLEV, a total of £7.5 million (US $11.3 million) will be allocated to the program, with a maximum limit of £1,500 (US $2,270) per vehicle. This funding is part of a £500 million (US $755 million) pool managed by OLEV, with the aim to make electric motorcycles and scooters more affordable, reducing their purchase price by up to an estimated 20 percent.

Encouraging the public to buy electric vehicles is anticipated to prove beneficial on several levels. Apart from the light environmental footprint of such vehicles, research results have indicated that in metropolitan areas, powered two-wheelers help reduce congestion, free more parking space and reduce journey times for all road users. Prospective buyers can also look forward to escaping taxes such as the Congestion Charge and Work Place Parking Levy.

"This is a significant development as it recognizes the part motorcycles and scooters can play in a low carbon future," says Steve Kenward, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA). "The subsidy will encourage more people to opt for electric motorcycles and scooters, which will help solve the UK’s appalling congestion problem. Economically, it will provide a much needed boost to this sector of the automotive industry. We hope this will result in increased investment in UK research and development for electric powered two wheel vehicles. We also hope it will give manufacturers who already have electric models for sale in mainland Europe the confidence to launch in the UK."

Initially planning to subsidize the sales of at least 5,000 electric motorcycles and scooters during the next five years, OLEV’s program could provide an attractive example for other European governments to follow.

OLEV says it will now work with industry to finalize grant levels and eligibility criteria of the program.

Sources: Gov.UK, ACEM