Friday, 7 August 2009

£25M Trial Puts Electric Cars on UK Streets

Eight new low carbon vehicle projects are set to benefit from a share of £25 million of Government funding to run ‘real life' trials, Science Minister Lord Drayson and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis announced today.

The project will be the biggest of its kind and accelerate the availability of innovative low carbon cars to consumers. The successful bids, which bring together car manufacturers, power companies, RDAs, councils and academic institutions will operate ‘real life' trials in eight locations across the UK.

Government investment will support the investment already made by the consortia themselves and is the most significant step in the UK to date of a co-ordinated move towards low carbon transport.

Lord Drayson, Science Minister in the newly formed Department for Business Innovation & Skills, said:

"Low Carbon doesn't mean low performance. Modern electric cars offer power and bucket loads of torque.

"Today's announcement signals our intent to reduce our dependence on petrol- and diesel-based engines, and determine the best practical alternatives.

"Government and consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly vehicles is already creating business opportunities for established industry players and innovative new entrants."

Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said;

"We want Britain to be at the forefront of ultra-low carbon automotive technology, blazing a trail for environmentally friendly transportation.

"Central to our plans is the stimulation of demand for low carbon cars through projects like this to test the technology and give motorists the opportunity to feedback the information needed to make greener motoring a reality

"Our aim is for ultra-low carbon vehicles to be an everyday feature of life on Britain's roads in less than five years. This is a challenging target and there is still a long way to go. However, if we continuing to work closely with motorists and the industry with initiatives like the demonstrations project, I believe it is achievable."

It is planned that approximately 340 vehicles will begin trials on UK roads within the next six to eighteen months, the biggest project of its kind. The majority of the vehicles are electric, with a small number being plug-in petrol/electric hybrids. The information gained from this project will make an important contribution to the future plans of manufacturers and their partners, to develop low carbon vehicles for the mass market.

The Technology Strategy Board created the Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition to act as a catalyst for industry, the public sector and academia to come together to create low emission vehicles and provide solutions to powering them.

The winning consortia showcase new and emerging low carbon vehicle technologies in real world situations - many of the electric cars will be recharged via plug-ins around cities across the UK, as well as at home.

Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson supporting the launch, said:

"For me this announcement signals the start of an exciting journey that will see a radical change in the type of cars that we see on the UK's roads in the next half century. The fact that there will be a move towards making these cars as appealing and as powerful as petrol consuming vehicles makes the next few decades a very interesting time for the environmentally conscious UK car driver.

For further information on the Technology Strategy Board


  1. Of course,electric cars produce more CO2 than petrol cars if you take into account the electricity generation at the (coal/gas)power station unless it's from a nuclear power staion. Also 30million people charging batteries at home to power an electric motor of tens of kW for a few hours travel would require a huge amount of electricity every night! Also would the grid be able to cope?

  2. Dear Captain,
    You're right to consider the displacement of carbon emission to electricity generation in the so-called well to wheel emissions of vehicles, but you're quite wrong to say that electric cars produce more CO2 than petrol cars. This is only true in some areas, and only when you compare to the very greenest petrol car. But obviously it is easier to decarbonise the electricity generation mix than it is to decarbonise a petrol engine.

    To rebuff your second point: you already point out that the charging-up will mostly be happening at night. This is when there is plenty of cheap electricity already available, and in fact plug-in cars could be a useful buffer if smart-meters are used, to smooth out the load cycle and enable a much greater proportion of wind and other intermittent renewables.