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Ultra low carbon cars given £500m funding boost

Affordability and reliability are at the centre of a £500m government investment to encourage the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

The investment, taking place between 2015 and 2020, will focus on four initiatives designed to increase the uptake of ULEVs, encourage innovation and create jobs.

Local authorities are being encouraged to compete for a share of £35m aimed at projects to make ULEV ownership more attractive in towns and cities. Another £50m will also be available for local areas to invest in cleaner taxis and buses.

A further £32m is being invested into charging infrastructure, including plans to install rapid chargepoints across the ‘M’ and ‘A’ road network by 2020.

Car grants of £5,000 off the upfront cost of ULEVs will be extended, and £100m is earmarked for further research and development in low carbon technologies for the automotive industry.

In a statement Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, said: ‘This major investment is there to make driving an electric car affordable, convenient, and free from anxiety about the battery running out. But it’s also about creating a culture change in our towns and cities so that driving a greener vehicle is a no-brainer for most drivers.

Welcoming the announcement, BMW UK managing director, Tim Abbott said: ‘The UK government’s commitment to supporting the transition to lower-emission vehicles comes at a crucial phase in the development of the electric car market.

‘The government’s funding commitment provides certainty that the UK is serious about embracing these new technologies and complements the very substantial investments being made by industry to introduce innovative lower-emission technologies that are not only exciting for customers but also good for the environment.

‘The development of rapid charging infrastructure, together with the continuation of the Plug in Car Grant, is particularly important in giving potential electric vehicle owners the additional confidence some of them might need to make the switch.’

Key features of the OLEV package:

  • £200m for the continuation of the Plug-in Car Grant, securing the government contribution of up to £5,000 towards the cost of qualifying, new (ULEVs.
  • £30m to assist the purchase of other vehicles.
  • £100m for R&D projects.
  • £20m for taxi infrastructure and incentives.
  • £30m for buses.
  • £35m for a new city scheme.
  • £32m on infrastructure (including for a rapid charging network).
  • £4m for gas refuelling network for HCVs.

Source: SMMT

Readers' comments (11)

  • The state just doesn't seem to realise that such subsidies hit the poorest hardest as they benefit disproportionately less and pay disproportionately more.

    Whether its energy policy or transport: state intervention should be directed toward reducing the cost of living for those who earn least. Better public transport, more high efficiency social housing, more insulation etc.

    New electric cars will benefit those who can already afford new cars in the first place. Wind is a case in point. High costs with the same rates paid by all with the revenues feeding back to already wealthy landowners, whilst the elderly and poorest pay propotionately more for it.

    It may be green but its not sustainable.

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  • @Nathan

    Agree that this investment doesn't appear to immediately help the less well off. But encouraging those who can afford it to go electric and putting in the infrastructure for them will eventually help the less well off.

    By subsidising the infrastructure for electric vessels and encouraging their adoption to pushes up the economies of scale making the technology more available to everyone. We need to help and encourage the early adopters.

    Then there is biggest benefit of all - Lower pollution and cleaner cities and that helps everyone, but more especially the less well off.

    By only criticism is that its not enough and there is not enough investment and drive to bring online reliable renewables like barrages and tidal plus some nuclear to get a good mix of sources.

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  • There are several simple steps that could be taken if we were serious about greening the UK vehicle fleet.

    First reduce weight by removing all the gimmics from cars - electric windows, heated seats, stability systems, big tyres, ....... This would then also impact on the second issue of life. The generation and scrapping of a vehicle has a massive impact on the overall impact, but is largely ignored in the assessments. If the vehicles lasted even a couple of years longer it would have a massive impact. Many vehicles are written off because the gimmics become uneconomical to repair.
    A simple, long life vehicle, even with a higher CO2 / km should be better.

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  • I can't help feeling that the emphasis on ULEV's merely pushes the carbon cost upstream.
    All cars should have a lifetime 'carbon footprint' based on a single industry-wide formula which accommodates every carbon cost associated with making and running the vehicle for a fixed term, say 10 years. Only then can we make like for like comparisons.

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  • The bottom line is that electric cars have stupidly short range and are ludicrously expensive. They are unsuitable for anything other than short city journeys, and most people who own them seem to have another, conventional, vehicle for longer journeys. We should stop touting electric vehicles as the answer to low carbon transport (if, indeed, their net carbon output including manufacture is less). The investment and effort needs to be put into alternatives such as fuel cells if we are to have a practical alternative to fossil fuels.

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  • The effects of Govt/EUSSR energy policy on generating capacity could well result in the inability to meet industrial and domestic peak electricity demand, never mind electric cars. This is another Clegg & Co 'initiative' suggesting a lamentable lack of joined up thinking.

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  • @ GTC and John - agree entirely. EVs should only be a tiny part of low carbon transport policy. While 40% of world electricity is generated from coal, EVs cannot really be called low carbon anyway.

    And they perpetuate the idea that mass personal car ownership is a valid model for the future. This simply isn't isn't sustainable, whatever form of propulsion is used.

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  • This decarbonising ideology is detrimental to most British people and only benefits a small elite. Time to stop worrying about controlling climate (as if we can anyway). Government is voted in to look after the people not spend our money on failing to solve a non-problem.

    The average of 0.7 deg C increase in global mean temperature since industrialisation is not a problem. Global temperature has been flatlining now for 17 years on average and cooling since 2002 (ref prof Phil Jones UEA HadCRU) despite the largest annual CO2 increases since industrialisation over the 17 year period.

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  • With electricity we can work at the problem of efficiency from both ends - better generation/transmission and more efficient consumption. An improvement in generation immediately effects everyone. It seems pretty obvious what the benefit is.

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  • The headline figure does appear quite high but broken down this is actually a very low investment. If you ignore the £5000/car grant and look only at the infrastructure components and think of the UK's 35million registered vehicles this amounts to about £2 per car. Local governments make more than that from parking and traffic violations. So in practice we need to identify and develop an infrastructure that supports short journeys: Bike parks, public transport, community e-vehicles, private e-vehicles, e-taxis. Buying a petrol or diesel powered car is a no-brainer - lots of refuelling stations, lots of choice. Buying an e-vehicle is a lot more complex as you have to choose to live without the infrastructure enjoyed by other fuels, or put it in place yourself. The £5k "grant" for a compromised vehicle does not really help as other commentators have suggested. I still haven't seen e-vehicles enter the same market as other fuelled vehicles.

    I'd like to see a commitment to an e-vehicle infrastructure as unless it exists there will no real market. Remember it wasn't until the oil companies put their fuel-station infrastructure in place that personal motoring really became affordable and we're reaping the rewards of the long term investment now. In order to reap any rewards from e-vehicles we need to build the infrastructure to support them.

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