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Electric Car Incentive Hits UK

Toyota FCV Concept

From next year until 2020, purchase an electric car in the UK and you will be able to claim up to £5,000 - an incentive already available in parts of Europe.

The government has announced an extension to its £5,000 electric car incentive scheme. This extension arrives as just one part of a £500 million boost to funding, as the government try to make (ultra) low emission vehicles more appealing. The funding as a whole is to be used to provide jobs, encourage the use of cleaner transport, and expand the charging point network that already exists. The overall drive, if you'll excuse the pun, is "to make driving an electric car affordable, convenient, and free from anxiety about the battery running out" - ­three things the government has realised are quite important to most drivers.

From the start, the scheme cautiously followed the example set by France, where buyers of low emission vehicles can get a €7,000 bonus incentive. In Ireland, the current incentive is a €5,000 grant, in Spain it's €6,000, and in Estonia it's a very generous €18,000. Most European countries now excuse low emission vehicles from paying any registration tax, but the cost benefits year to year vary wildly between countries. Norway is the best subsidiser, with Norwegian research projects estimating the average combined saving of tax subsidies, fuel saving and free parking to be between €3,300 and €8,200 per car, per year.

The UK government's extension of the grant comes just weeks after the US Navy test flew an aircraft powered entirely by a fuel made from seawater. It's a process that's been in the works for a few years, and researchers say the technology could soon be commercially available. If it is, and the brains have got their sums right, it's predicted that a litre of fuel would cost between 40p and 80p. On top of this, Toyota Motor Corp have confirmed they will be launching a hydrogen­ powered car next year, and Hyundai suggested their own zero-­emission hydrogen­-fuelled car might be available within the next two years. The advantage of hydrogen-­powered cars being that they can refuel more quickly than an electric vehicle and have the range of a petrol engined car.

With all this inventing and incentivising, might we live in hope of a truly greener future? And that seawater-­powered muscle car I've been dreaming about?