The electric car industry was handed a £37million boost by the taxpayer yesterday – even though only 2,300 were sold last year.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced a subsidy for homes and businesses which fit plug-in points for the cars.
It will pay up to three-quarters of the installation costs, which range from £1,000 to £10,000.
Hospitals, police and public bodies may have the full price paid.
The government wants to encourage the ownership of electric cars, such as the Vauxhall Ampera
Only 3,200 have sold in the last two years – less than 1 per cent of the total market – despite green discounts of £5,000 per car.
Patrick McLoughlin said the money will be made available to install new “plug-in” chargers for electric vehicles in homes, streets and railway stations.
The minister predicted that customers would be increasingly attracted to the technology because charging a battery at home will be cheaper and less time consuming than buying fuel at a conventional filling station.
Confidence in electric cars will take time to build but the same was true of unleaded petrol, he said.
In 2012 just 2,237 electric cars were sold and registered for the ‘plug-in car grant’, though that is double the figure of 1,052 in 2011 and a big increase on the 111 in 2010.
Studies show the fear of losing power on the road is a top reason people do not use the vehicles.
Mr McLoughlin announced the subsidy on a visit to Sunderland, where Nissan produces its Leaf electric car. He said he wanted Britain to be a world leader in the electric car industry.
Patrick McLoughlin plans to give more incentive for installing an electric car charge point
But he rejected criticisms that electric sales were poor because they were only of use in towns, and insisted manufacturers would not be making them if there were not a market for them: ‘They are fantastic cars.’