World's biggest electric car test-drive will span eight cities and over 300 vehicles The Government has pledged £25m towards a UK-wide trial of electric cars. The scheme, claimed to be the biggest of its kind anywhere, will loan 340 vehicles to drivers in eight cities across Britain.

Cars available will include an electric version of the BMW Mini (pictured), and Mitsubishi’s Miev car, plus electric Smart cars and Peugeots. They’ll be seen in London, Oxford, Newcastle and Glasgow, among other locations. They will be loaned to members of the public for between six and 12 months and the first could be on the road by the end of the year.

Most of the cars will be all-electric, but some may also be hybrids – which combine power from petrol and electric motors. None must emit more than 50g/km of carbon dioxide. The govt’s funding will be matched by car companies taking part, boosting the total to £50m.

The scheme will be operated by the Technology Strategy Board, an independent authority that is government-backed. David Bott, the organisation’s director of innovation programmes, said electric cars were now ‘credible. We’re looking at cars with a range of 150 miles (between charges) and decent speed.’

Matthew Lumsden, who is managing the project in the north-east, said they wanted to find users whose journeys suited the cars – typically commuters and school run parents.

‘We also want them to park in visible places: half the process is about raising the profile of the vehicles, ‘he said. The UK has 33 million vehicles on its roads and that total is expected to increase by 5 million within the next 120 years. Some 22% of carbon emissions come from road transport, of which 13% is from private cars. According to a study by the Department for Transport, widespread use of electrically powered cars could halve emissions.

Stephen Jury


June 24, 2009

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