The government is committing an additional £4m to the plug-in van grant scheme extending the eligibility to larger electric vehicles, with electric trucks above 3.5 tonnes becoming eligible for grants of up to £20,000.

The plug-in van grant has been available to small commercial vehicles of up to 3.5 tonnes since 2012, but sales of new electric vans have remained limited.

The government is now committing an additional £4 million to the scheme so that all vans and trucks meeting the necessary requirements are eligible as part of the drive to reduce carbon emissions from transport use.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: “The electric car revolution is well underway with consumers and this funding will encourage more businesses to consider switching to cleaner vans and trucks.

“Our automotive sector is thriving with the world’s most popular electric car already made in the UK and we are forging ahead to deploy new engine technology to make low-carbon vehicles mainstream, and leading the way in driverless car technology.

“The government and industry continue to work together to support the UK’s world class automotive industry to ensure we continue to be the number one place in the world to develop and manufacture cars.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the extension of the scheme. Rachael Dillon, FTA’s climate change policy manager, said: “We are delighted that Government has recognised that freight operators need support as much as other vehicle users to adopt greener fuels and technologies in order to reduce carbon and contribute to improved air quality.

“The cost of an electric vehicle can be prohibitive so any financial support that Government can give may allow operators to make the business case to invest.

“There are still a huge number of barriers to adopting electric vehicles including higher costs, lack of charging infrastructure, short range, reliability and limited payload due to the weight of batteries. While electric won’t suit every operation or truck, FTA hopes that the grant system can encourage uptake.”