Scottish ministers are being urged to move the rollout of electric vehicles up a gear, as new figures show less than 2,300 drivers have taken out special loans to help with their purchase.
Statistics obtained through a freedom of information request show that since 2015-16, 2,265 drivers have taken advantage of the electric vehicle loan scheme.
The initiative, delivered by Transport Scotland, provides interest-free loans of up to £35,000 to help with the purchase of an electric or hybrid vehicle.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats complained the take-up of electric vehicles “remains woefully low”, as they said the scheme has been “averaging just a few hundred interest-free electric vehicle loans a year”.
Environment spokeswoman Molly Nolan said: “The experts are clear that the next 10 years will be absolutely critical to reduce emissions by enough to avert the full disaster of the climate emergency.
“But if the last decade of electric vehicle investment is anything to go by, the Scottish Government will fall far short of anything akin to green ambition. Electric vehicle uptake remains woefully low.”
She said while the public are aware of the benefits of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and are “eager to make the switch”, figures show the proportion of drivers with an electric car has actually reduced from 1.8% in 2018 to 1.6% in 2019.
Ms Nolan insisted: “It is time to quickly power-up consumer confidence.
“Liberal Democrat campaigning has already helped persuade the UK and Scottish governments to bring forward the date for ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars to 2030.
“It will drive industry to focus investment in this sector, but we also need a dramatic increase in the rollout of charging points.
“It is time to shift the rollout of greener cars up a gear, as part of a radical and credible plan to tackle the climate emergency.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “This year, we’ve expanded our low carbon transport loan to include second-hand vehicles for the first time. Scotland is the first to provide support to purchase used electric vehicles across the UK and there are encouraging signs of progress.
“We’ve seen growth of over 50% in the number of licensed ULEVs in Scotland over the 12-month period to the end of Q3 in 2020.
“We’ve provided over £85 million in loan funding to help people make the switch to electric vehicles.
“We’ve also invested over £32 million in Charge Place Scotland, our public network which now has more than 1,500 available EV charge points. We have also provided financial support to install over 3,500 domestic and 400 workplace charge points.
“To effectively respond to the climate emergency, we need to see fewer trips made by private vehicles, not more. This approach has been outlined in our National Transport Strategy and through our recently updated Climate Change Plan where we have committed to achieve a 75% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
“Across two rounds of our Plugged-In Households programme, over £869,000 has been awarded to registered social landlords to procure the services of electric car clubs and shared car hire schemes. This is already providing affordable access to e-mobility, and crucially provides real alternatives to car ownership in local communities across Scotland.”