The Government is backing electric and hydrogen cars for the long term – and it wants the UK to be a world leader in the design and manufacture of ultra low emission technologies.
Take-up of electric cars has been slow over the last few years, despite a generous taxpayer-funded grant that cuts up to £5,000 off the list price of new models like the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi I-MiEV and Vauxhall Ampera.
But Transport Minister Norman Baker signalled the Government would continue to invest millions of pounds in promoting ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) – and set out a number of ambitious goals – in a new strategy published on 4 September.
Baker said: “These are exciting times for the motoring industry as ultra low emission vehicles are the future for road travel. Our vision is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle, with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.”
As part of its goal to ensure every car on the road is carbon-free, the Department for Transport wants every new car sold to be an ULEV by 2040, for industry to set up a network of charge points and hydrogen fuelling stations, and a smarter electricity grid to cope with the additional strain that widespread take-up of electric cars would create.
The strategy document states that the Government won’t “pick a winner” between plug-in electric and hydrogen cars – it will support both technologies and let consumers decide with their wallets which is better.
As a result, it will continue to invest in support of both electric and hydrogen cars, through consumer incentives, business support and investment in infrastructure.
The Government has already committed to investing £400m up to 2015 in support of ULEVs, and a further £500m between 2015 and 2020. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is now inviting the motor industry to advise on the most effective way for the second round of funding to be spent.
The Government is also looking to set up a prize of up to £10m to reward the development of long-life battery technology for next generation of electric cars.