Contractor Car Leasing

Ideal ultra-low-emissions vehicles to lease following PiCG changes

5 April 2016

Launched in 2011, the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) sought to encourage the adoption of ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) to benefit the environment, communities, public health, the future of fuel and energy, and also motorists’ finances.

Grants of upto £5,000 were originally offered for eligible cars and upto £8,000 for qualifying vans, but on March 1st 2016, the government introduced major changes to the PiCG. In short, the scheme had become a victim of its own success, ULEV sales rocketing by 386% year-on-year in Q1 of 2015. With manufacturers rapidly introducing pure-electric, hybrid and even hydrogen-powered models, the government couldn’t afford to continue subsidising green motoring to such an extent.

New Plug-in Car Grant categories

Depending on which criteria they meet, newly-registered, ultra-low-emissions vehicles in the UK will now be placed in one of three new categories based on their zero emissions range and CO2 emissions. Contract hire specialists, Vehicle Consulting, have picked what they consider to be the best models from each:

Category 1

Grant of upto £4,500 or 35% off the price of cars emitting less than 50g/km CO2, with an electric (zero emissions) range of 70 miles or more. This category is primarily for fully electric vehicles, often referred to as ‘pure EVs’.

Pick:Nissan’s LEAF is too recognisable as fully electric, Tesla’s Model S is simply brilliant but out of financial reach for many contractors, BMW’s i3 looks too futuristic and Ford’s Focus Electric is a tad bland. For the best blend of a prestigious image, reasonable leasing and running costs, space, practicality and performance, the Volkswagen e-Golf is hard to beat.”

Category 2

Grant of upto £2,500 or 35% off the price of cars emitting less than 50g/km CO2, with a pure electric (zero emissions) range of between 10 and 69 miles, providing the car costs less than £60,000.

Pick:Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is too large a vehicle for many contractors, BMW’s 330e is in short supply and as appealing as Audi’s A3 e-tron is, it’s Mercedes’ C350 e that gets our vote. With a healthy 275bhp available whilst emitting just 49g/km and potentially achieving fuel consumption of 134.5mpg, this prestigious executive car from category 2 is a great choice for contractors.”

Category 3

Grant of upto £2,500 or 35% off the price of cars emitting between 50g and 75g/km CO2, with a zero emissions range of 20 miles or more, providing the car costs less than £60,000.


Commercial vehicles receive a grant of upto £8,000 or 20% off their on the road price providing they emit under 75g/km CO2 and are able to drive 10 miles or more on zero emissions.

Pick: With more cargo space than the Renault Kangoo ZE electric van, our recommendation is Nissan’s e-NV200, offering a relaxing driving experience on pure electric and a claimed range of 106 miles.

For advice on whether ULEV car leasing is right for your business and financial circumstances, contact Umbrella’s partners, Vehicle Consulting of Manchester, who work with contractors across the UK.