UK Government Pulls The Plug On Green Cars Subsidies

  • Date: 29/06/10

Britain’s car industry can no longer rely on taxpayer ’emergency’ bailouts, new Business Secretary Vince Cable warned today.

He said:’We don’t want to go around the country waving a cheque book.’

Mr Cable also signalled that the Government was unlikely to give a big taxpayer subsidy to help General Motors to have its new Ampera electric car built in Britain at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port.

The plant builds the Astra and currently employs 1,800 and the deal would create hundreds more jobs.

The company had sought about £300million from the previous Labour Government.

But Mr Cable, who is to meet GM’s Welsh-born boss Nick Reilly to discus the matter within days, made clear today that such large sums were now out of the question, though there may be some help at the fringes in relation to training, apprenticeships, tax breaks, and environmental measures.

He said General Motors had not yet formally approached his Government about any grants to build the Ampera in Britain, but noted that the car was an ‘attractive proposition’ for the firm and that such projects ‘shouldn’t depend on Government support.’

The Business Secretary told the Financial Times online that the new Government would instead focus on indirect ways to help industry: ‘We’re moving out of an emergency time, and support will come in more indirect ways.’

GM UK bosses want to build the Ampera in the UK from 2011, rather than see the work go to Bochum in Germany. The UK is likely to be the largest European market for it.

Vauxhall insiders said they hoped for a productive meeting between Mr Reilly and Mr Cable, who is also to address a major automotive summit in London on Wednesday, organised by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A Labour pledge of a £5,000 discount for buyers of new electric cars is also likely to be axed.

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