Ending electric car grants is a ‘backwards step’, Halfords tells Shapps

The boss of Halfords has demanded a rethink from Grant Shapps on his shock decision to end the electric car grants scheme, calling it a “backward step”. 

The Government this week unexpectedly scrapped the £1,500 subsidy for purchases of new electric cars. 

It will use the money saved from the closure of the scheme to fund public charging infrastructure, which the Government called “the main barriers to the electric vehicle transition”.

Halfords’ chief executive Graham Stapleton warned the move will slow down the electric car revolution. 

He said: “Until now, we have been greatly encouraged by the Government’s commitment to making the transition to electric cars.

“However, the sudden and complete removal of the plug-in subsidy is a backward step.

“It will delay mass adoption at a time when we need to be doing everything we can to help people to choose greener transport options.”

Halfords will write to Mr Shapps, the Transport Secretary, to ask him to reconsider.

Mr Stapleton is one of several industry figures to condemn the government’s decision to axe the grants. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the move “comes at the worst possible time”. Edmund King, AA president, said: “The plug has been pulled at the wrong time.”

The scheme has provided more than £1.4bn to motorists and facilitated the purchase of nearly half a million electric and hybrid vehicles since it launched in 2011.

It initially started at £5,000 and was designed to narrow the cost between electric and petrol and diesel cars. The grant was repeatedly cut before being scrapped this week.

The Government plans to support the purchase of other road vehicles going forward such as plug-in taxis, vans, trucks, motorcycles, and wheelchair accessible vehicles, where the transition requires more development. Support was always meant to be temporary, it said.

Mr Stapleton’s intervention came as he told shareholders that pre-tax profits at Halfords will be lower in the new financial year amid economic uncertainty. 

The company faces the prospect of “reduced demand, particularly for more discretionary, higher ticket items, and significant cost inflation”.

Shares sank 20pc in early trading.

Despite the dour outlook, Halfords posted a 49.8pc increase in pre-tax profits for the year to April 1, rising to £96.6m.

Meanwhile, total revenues increased by almost a fifth to £1.3bn compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Retail motoring sales grew by 6.5pc, while its cycling business was up 2.7pc against two year ago. However, cycling revenue was significantly lower against last year after a cycling boom during the pandemic.

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