The Government today announced the first nine electric cars for which drivers will be eligible for a 25% Whitehall-paid grant.

Five more regions that will be installing recharging points were also announced by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

From January 1, 2011, motorists buying the first three of the named electric cars will get 25% off, up to a maximum of £5,000.

The first three cars are the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the Mercedes-Benz smart fortwo ED and the Peugeot iON.

The 25% reduction will also apply to the other six cars as they become part of the scheme over the next few months.

The Citroen CZero will be available in early 2011, while the Nissan Leaf and the Tata Vista EV will be available in March 2011.

Available from early 2012 will be the Toyota Prius Plug-in, the Vauxhall Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt. More will follow next year.

The new regions installing local charging points and which have successfully bid for a share of a £20 million fund, are the east of England, the Midlands, Greater Manchester, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The east of England charging points include Stansted airport, Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich. The Midlands points include Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham and Worcester, while Scottish points include Edinburgh and central Glasgow.

Mr Hammond said today: "A few years ago, ultra-low emission cars with mass-market appeal appeared just a pipe dream. Now they are a reality and we can have all the convenience of the car without the carbon that normally goes with it.

"Government action to support affordable vehicles and more local charging points means we are on the threshold of an exciting green revolution. 2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off.

"The British public has in the past shown it's ready to embrace new technology and take practical steps to adopt a lifestyle kinder to the environment, so we could really be at the start of something big."

Business Minister Mark Prisk said: "Today's news that motorists will be able to choose from at least nine cars under the consumer incentive scheme and that we are expanding the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles will further reinforce the message that the UK is Europe's leading producer of ultra low carbon vehicles."

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Paul Everitt said: "The transition to ultra-low carbon vehicles is a great opportunity for the UK motor industry. The Plug-In Car Grant and infrastructure investment through the Plugged-In Places scheme is helping to create a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to creating vital consumer demand.

"The motor industry is making great progress in delivering practical, low carbon vehicles and we will see further progress of new and conventional technologies in the years ahead.

"Today's announcements confirm the UK as a leading player in making low carbon an economic and environmental winner."

The Vauxhall Ampera will cost £28,995 even with the £5,000 grant.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "We support the Government grant. While this makes ultra-green cars cheaper, it doesn't make them cheap.

"The £43 million being made available until early 2012 means at least 8,600 will benefit from the subsidy, though this has to be put into the context of the 28 million cars in the UK and annual new car sales of around two million.

"Clearly we are still a long way from an affordable mass market for these vehicles, but this is a very welcome step in the right direction."

AA president Edmund King said: "The grants for electric cars will be an important catalyst for change. We welcome the fact that a range of real cars powered by electricity will be on the market in the new year.

"Electric and plug-in hybrid cars will be an important part of motoring, particularly in urban areas in the future."

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