E-bike prices could be cut by 30% through the extension of a government subsidy already on offer to buyers of other electric vehicles. Trials of the scheme are likely to begin in the coming months before an official launch in spring next year.
There are already grants available for plug-in cars, motorbikes, vans, taxis and trucks and a "national e-bike support programme" was recently promised in the Government’s 'Gear Change' document.
The Times reports that Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has said that the government is, “developing a national programme of support to boost e-bike uptake to the levels seen in many other countries.”
Heaton-Harris said full details would be announced in the spring, following the outcome of the government’s spending review, which is due to conclude at the end of the month.
He added that a number of smaller pilot e-bike support schemes would be backed in the current financial year before committing to a format for broader measures next year.
Cycling UK believe a straightforward subsidy should be what is offered – but not too generous, on the basis that, “it could simply end up being a subsidy for wealthy people to buy expensive bikes.” The charity instead suggests that greater financial incentives be offered to those with health conditions or disabilities.
The Bicycle Association has previously estimated that a £250 incentive could double sales.
“E-bikes flatten hills, cancel headwinds, turn short sweaty routes in a carefree ride, and above all they are fun,” said Cycling UK chief executive, Sarah Mitchell.
“Nearly 70 per cent of journeys under five miles are driven. With the right incentives and right infrastructure in place, a mass uptake in e-bikes could provide a real alternative to households that previously relied on two or more cars.
“There’s no reason to be sniffy about e-bikes – they’re not cheating and have an important part to play in making cycling more accessible for more people.”
In Scotland, residents can already take advantage of an interest-free loan from the Energy Saving Trust, which can support the purchase of two e-bikes capped at £3,000 each, one family e-cargo bike capped at £6,000 or one adaptive e-bike capped at £6,000, with a four year repayment plan - click here to find out more.