Fancy a free £5,000? Buy an electric car!
Under new government proposals and as part of the government’s £250 million strategy to reduce carbon emissions, motorists are to be offered incentives of up to £5,000 to buy electric cars.
It has not yet been decided how the money would be distributed, but incentives would only be available to people buying cars that ran entirely, or for the vast majority of their time, on electricity. The scheme, which would be enforced by setting a ceiling for the amount of carbon dioxide a car emits, will become operational in 2011.
In addition, it is proposed that about 200 electric cars will be available in city centre across the country for the public to try out.
Almost a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from transport, with 13 per cent of these from private cars. But widespread adoption of electric vehicles capable of a range of 50km or more would cut road transport carbon emissions in half, according to a study by the Department for Transport.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Hoon said: “What we’ve got to get people used to is the idea that electric cars will become quite normal, quite usual.
“That people will have one, that it won’t be exceptional and, without being unkind to existing electric vehicles, they won’t be slightly odd, they will be cars that conform to appropriate safety standards and we can use on an everyday basis.”
He added: “I accept that, for most consumers, what drives their decision to buy a new car is generally the reduction in the cost of fuel rather than their concern about carbon emissions.
“But there are significant numbers of people, and those numbers are growing every day, who are concerned about the impact of carbon on the environment. It’s the responsibility of the government to help those people achieve our overall targets. Electric vehicles will be part of that, provided that we also ensure that the electricity we generate is generated increasingly from renewable sources.”
David Bott, director of innovation at the Technology Strategy Board, a government-sponsored research body which funds low-carbon research, said: “Now the motor manufacturers have understood that the [electric] car doesn’t have to be hair-shirt. These are now credible cars and you’re not giving up anything to use one but you get a benefit in terms of running costs – the equivalent cost per mile is an eighth or a tenth of the cost of using a petrol engine.”
Mr Hoon added that he was keen to work with Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, who recently announced his intent to make the city the electric car capital of Europe, by introducing 100,000 electric cars and building 25,000 charge points in the streets and car parks.
Mr Hoon said: “Clearly I want to work with him and see what’s possible in London and am willing to help financially if there are sensible schemes that can be brought forward. London is a showcase for the UK and large numbers of electric vehicles around the UK would be a good thing.”
Last week it was reported that Gordon Brown was planning an environmentally friendly budget, hoping to make Britain “a world leader” in producing and exporting electric cars and hybrid petrol-electric vehicles.
Mr Brown said that a “scrappage” scheme where motorists would get up to £2,000 for trading in an older car for a cleaner new vehicle, was possible, adding that he would consider buying electric cars for minsiters as a means of setting an example.
His comments came as Jaguar Land Rover was granted a £340 million loan from the European Investment Bank to develop “green vehicles”, while Nissan received a further £373 million to be split between its plants in Sunderland and Spain.
For more information on this story, visit the BBC’s website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8001254.stm