The Department for Transport has cited the speech by Transport Secretary Justine Greening made last week at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event at the Excel Centre, London as a good indicator of government policy towards vehicles.
In her speech, the Secretary of State made special mention of how vehicle manufacturers are working to reduce emissions, partly through the development of electric vehicles.
Ms Greening said: “We are seeing a big and rapid leap forward in the design and technology of low carbon vehicles. There was a slow start but the pace is now picking up and is making low carbon vehicles a reliable and viable choice for consumers in terms of their motoring needs today.”
She noted how there is a “welcome” shift from prototypes to mass production – and that Nissan is predicting that “it will 1.5 million zero emission cars by 2016.”
“According to recent research by Deloitte, eco-friendly vehicles could account for one in ten of all new global car sales within a decade,” said Ms Greening. “ The fact that some of these cars are produced in the UK is another reason why the switch to low emission is so important for the UK.”
And, she said that history shows that mass production means greater affordability.
Commenting on government initiatives to encourage “greener” vehicles, Ms Greening gave the Government’s Plug in Car Grant as one example – a 25% subsidy up to a maximum of £5,000 – as well as the Plug-in Van Grant which again gives 25% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £8000.
Chicken and Egg
Recognising that there is a lack of intrastructure for electric vehicles, Ms Greening said that “arguably there’s a chicken and egg situation in the development of the low emission vehicle market – we have limited infrastructure because we have few electric vehicles, and we have few electric vehicles because we have limited infrastructure.
“This is a new area – we are trying to dramatically change consumer behaviours in a market used to one type of vehicle.”
The Secretary of State went on to say that there is a move along the curve to greener vehicles “and a shift to low emission vehicles is underway. It’s been slow-burn, but it’s been steady, and I believe it will start to pick up speed over the next 12-24 months and gain real traction.”
And, on conventional vehicles, she said: “I think it’s also important to recognise the way manufactures are reducing the emissions and improving the efficiency of conventional vehicles. For example, average new car fuel efficiency has improved 30% in the last ten years; while, on average, a new car bought today is 23% cleaner than a car designed and built in 2000.”
Green Bus Fund
Other topics covered by the Secretary of State included reference to the Green Bus Fund – “a scheme that has helped to deliver more than 500 low carbon buses on routes across England. And, notably, much of this work has been done by UK companies”.
And, she also referenced the low carbon truck demonstration trial – “£9.5 million worth of funding to encourage, and assist, UK road-haulage operators to buy, and use, low carbon medium and heavy-goods vehicles.”