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UK to invest $841M from 2015-2020 to boost ultra low emission vehicle industry

The UK government announced plans to invest £500 million (US$841 million) between 2015 and 2020 to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry and help drivers both afford and feel confident using electric cars.

The automotive industry is worth £11.2 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy, the government said. The production of ultra low emissions vehicles is a major part of growth both now and for the future. Full details of the elements of the €500-million plan will be published by autumn 2014; briefly, the different schemes include:

  • Creation of an “Ultra Low City Status”. Local areas coming up with the most ambitious plans can win a share of £35 million (US$59 million) to make the leap to becoming ultra low. Winning cities could, for example, incentivize drivers of green cars by letting them use bus lanes or allowing them to park for free. Additional funding of £50 million (US$84 million) will also be available for local areas to invest in cleaner taxis and buses.

  • R&D. The government will invest £100 million (US$168 million) in research and development in ULEV, with the intention of the country emerging as a world leader in the development, design and manufacture of green vehicles. This investment will help create skilled British jobs and have further positive impact down the supply chain.

  • Charging infrastructure. A £32-million (US$54-million) funding boost for charging infrastructure includes plans to install rapid chargepoints across the ‘M’ and ‘A’ road network by 2020 so that drivers can find a rapid chargepoint when they need one. Rapid chargepoints mean that a car can be charged in as little as 20 minutes.

  • Consumer grants. To encourage more people to use ULEV, car grants of £5,000 (US$8,413) off the upfront cost will be extended. This is worth at least £200 million (US$337 million).

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.

Drivers pay no road tax or congestion charge on ULEV. The average journey made by motorists is just 7 miles, with the typical range of a pure electric car being around 100 miles. For the longer journeys, there will be a rapid chargepoint (20 minutes to charge up) at every motorway service station by the end of 2014, and a network of 500 rapid chargers across the country by March 2015 – the best network in Europe.

—Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

LowCVP 2014-2015 workplan. The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) also announced its work program for 2014-15. The program is designed to complement the £500-million government spending plan.

Partly funded by the Department for Transport, the LowCVP works with the support of industry, government representatives, road users, environmental groups and others to help facilitate the shift to low carbon road transport and fuels, and encourage UK growth through related investment, innovation and jobs.

At its tenth anniversary in January 2013, the LowCVP announced the intention of ‘moving beyond the tailpipe’. All future projects will be developed with this wider life-cycle perspective of carbon embedded.

The new LowCVP workplan will:

  • Focus on cutting carbon and boosting growth and jobs
  • Translate national policy into local action
  • Develop markets for low emission technology on trucks, vans, buses
  • Map out the low carbon transport infrastructure required
  • Develop opportunities for low emission micro vehicles (L-category)
  • Integrate air quality considerations alongside cutting carbon
  • Support UK Government’s transport and environmental strategies
  • Increase life-cycle consideration of transport impacts


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