The government is set to green its road needs by introducing hybrid police cars, postal vans and political transport as part of a £100 million initiative.
Councils across the country will also have vehicles replaced along with Royal Mail, the Metropolitan police and other public sector organisations in a £20 million allocation.
A further £30 million will be ploughed into research into electric vehicle production technology with the rest of the money spent on developing related infrastructures and arranging public demonstrations and test drives.
The schemes are part of the broader drive to turn people onto low emissions vehicles. Thirteen percent of the UKs carbon emissions comes from private cars.
The plans were announced yesterday at a conference attended by international experts in the field. Newly appointed transport secretary Geoff Hoon was there. He said: “Electric cars and other low carbon vehicles, like plug-in hybrids, cut fuel costs and reduce harmful emissions. If we can inspire more people to use them, it will help us to make a positive impact on climate change.”
Evert Geursten is the co-founder of environmentally friendly car manufacturer NICE (No Internal Combustion Engine). “Despite the economic downturn, government knows it can’t afford to postpone action on climate change,” he said. “Electric vehicles are emissions-free, but also a recession-busting form of transport with motoring costs a fraction of those for standard petrol and diesel models. It’s a winning combination that benefits the environment and our customers today.”
Greenpeace senior transport campaigner, Anita Goldsmith, said the proposals are a “very encouraging” start but warned that further commitments from the government are needed.
“While £100m sounds like a lot, it’s the same amount as the government spends on widening a mile and half of motorway,” she said. “If ministers get this right then Britain’s ailing car industry could become a trailblazer in this technology, creating thousands of jobs and exporting zero emission cars to developing countries.”
NICE released a five incentive points in an attempt to convert any remaining skeptics of electric transport:
• Running costs from a couple of pence per mile. That’s around a fifteenth of those for a petrol or diesel car.
• No annual road tax. All NICE electric vehicles are zero-emissions and therefore exempt.
• Congestion charge exempt. Electric cars and vans do not pay the £8 daily charge to enter the zone, saving around £2,000 a year for those regularly driving into the centre of London.
• Free parking. Forward-thinking London boroughs like Westminster provide free parking for drivers of all-electric cars. The saving runs into thousands of pounds a year. Other boroughs also provide parking incentives like free on-street parking for residents.
• Free re-charging points. More re-charging points will help. However, Westminster is leading the way with 60 ‘juice points’ on streets around the borough.