The UK Government has announced that it will be making available a pot of £2 million to "support the uptake of e-cargo bikes, driving UK companies towards a greener future". The scheme looks like it will be similar to the one currently in place for electric cars: buyers can currently get up to £4,500 off a new electric car up up to £8,000 off a van.
"Support for e-cargo bikes will help to ensure that Britain leads the way in the development and deployment of the technologies of the future", said Jesse Norman, Minister for Low Emission Vehicles. "Encouraging electric delivery bikes on to our city streets will cut traffic and improve air quality, and will show how these vehicles have the potential to play an important role in the zero emission future of this country."
The scheme is certainly a step in the right direction and has been welcomed by the bike industry. Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, commented: “We welcome the announcement that the Government will provide £2m-worth of funding to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes in the UK. E-cargo bikes have the potential to fundamentally improve how people and goods move around our towns and cities, and can help to address the ‘Grand Challenges’ outlined in the UK’s Industrial Strategy. More e-cargo bikes on the road will help to tackle increased levels of air pollution, with a recent study by EU Cyclelogistics estimating that 51% of all urban motorised trips related to carrying goods have the potential to transfer to an e-cargo bike. It is encouraging to see the Government recognise the benefits of increased e-cargo bike uptake and today’s announcement will help to secure their success in future.”
The scheme is restricted to e-cargo bikes because has been announced in response to the Government's Last Mile call for evidence, which closed today. However, everything that Norman said about cargo bikes is also true of standard electric bikes; getting commuters to move from cars to e-bikes is one of the simplest and most effective ways for cities to cut congestion and pollution. It would be a sensible next step to extend the scheme to all electric bikes, especially seeing as the electric car scheme isn't restricted in the same way.
£2m isn't a huge pot compared to the electric car grant scheme, which has cost the UK taxpayer 200 times as much and, of course, doesn't do anything to tackle congestion. Electric cars take up the same amount of space as fossil fuel cars, more if you add in the charging infrastructure that often steals pavement space from pedestrians.
So how much will you be able to get off an e-cargo bike? Well, given that you can get £4,500 off a £30,000 electric car, you might expect to see a grant in the region of £500 for an e-cargo bike costing in the region of £3000-£4000. The details of the scheme have yet to be announced, however. When they surface, we'll let you know.