The Government has pulled the plug on grants for electric vehicles early after the cash it allocated for the scheme ran out due to a rush of registrations.

Changes to the Plug-in Car Grant (PICG) mean that the grant rate for Category 1 (pure electric) vehicles have been cut from £4,500 to £3,500 and Category 2 and 3 (hybrid) vehicles will no longer be eligible for the grant.

The new grant rates were due to come into effect on Friday 9 November, but the government warned that if sales were higher than expected, it would reduce grant rates earlier than this date.

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “Following exceptional demand, the sales cap for all vehicles eligible for the grant has been reached, and the new grant rates are now in effect. 

“These changes will allow us to focus support on zero-emission vehicles, such as pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

 “Hybrid vehicles will continue to be supported through lower car tax rates, grants for charging infrastructure and local incentives such as free parking.”

The DfT said sales of eligible vehicles was six times higher than normal.

Motoring organisations and car manufacturers criticised the changes saying they would undermine progress on developing sales of low emission vehicles.

The PICG was introduced in 2011 and has supported the purchase of more than 160,000 new cars.