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Road tax on electric and hybrid cars explained

028 Feb 2023

A closer look at if—and how—electric and hybrid vehicles pay road tax in the UK

What is road tax and do electric vehicle owners have to pay it?

Road taxalso known as ‘vehicle excise duty’is paid by motorists whose vehicles are registered in the UK and driven on UK roads. In the event that a car is being kept off-road, a vehicle must have have a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notice).

Does every motorist in the UK pay road tax?

In short, no. But how is road tax decided and what are the factors that determine how much must be paid, if any at all? Well, the figure is calculated according to CO2 emissions (in grams) per kilometre. Put simply: the fewer emissions your vehicle produces, the less road tax you must pay annually.

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Are fully electric vehicles exempt from road tax?

Yes, as they produce no tailpipe emissions, electric vehicle drivers are not expected to pay road tax. This exemption applies to all pure electric vehicles, regardless of their purchase price, and it's intended to incentivise drivers to switch to cleaner, more sustainable forms of transportation.

This has become one of the incentives for motorists to make the swap from traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. Considering that vehicles which are particularly high on emissions cost more to keep on the road, it’s little wonder that more people are swapping to electric vehicles to avoid these costs. Alongside savings, the eco-conscious may find a powerful vehicle without high C02 tailpipe emissions particularly appealing.

However, it’s worth noting that this exemption is set to be removed in 2025—meaning that zero tailpipe emission cars first registered on or after 1 April 2017 will be liable to pay the lowest first year rate of road tax (vehicle excise duty). From the second year of registration onwards, zero emission cars will move to the standard annual rate. At present, that rate applies to vehicles that produce 1 to 50g/km C02 tailpipe emissions.

Motorists pay an additional £390 a year if they have a car or motorhome with a ‘list price’ (before any discounts) of more than £40,000. This currently does not have to be paid on a pure electric vehicle. However, this is due to change: the expensive car supplement will be due for pure electric vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions registered on or after 1st April 2025.

Road tax for hybrid vehicles

For hybrid vehicles, the road tax rate is based on the C02 tailpipe emissions produced by the vehicle. The lower the C02 tailpipe emissions, the lower the road tax. This is because hybrid vehicles emit less C02 than conventional petrol or diesel vehicles, as they rely partially on electric power.

It's worth noting that the exact road tax rate for hybrid vehicles depends on the date of registration and the fuel type of the vehicle. For example, hybrid vehicles registered before April 2017 may have different road tax rates compared to those registered after that date.

So, do electric vehicles need to be taxed?

Yes. All UK vehicles must be taxed, even if the driver does not have to pay anything. It’s one of the legal requirements for vehicles, which includes being registered with the DVLA, having a roadworthy vehicle and possessing a valid MOT certificate.

In summary, road tax payments for electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK varies depending on the type of vehicle and its C02 tailpipe emissions. Fully electric vehicles are currently exempt from road tax payments, while hybrid vehicles pay a reduced rate based on their C02 tailpipe emissions.

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