The government has unveiled a series of funding initiatives this week aimed at boosting the uptake of ultra low emission vans, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and taxis in the UK.
As part of this package of initiatives, a £20 million fund was announced today (March 26) for local authorities to help reduce the upfront cost of purpose built taxis and to install charging infrastructure for plug-in taxi and private hire vehicles.
Successful bidders will be granted funding for three elements: feasibility studies to identify how grants can be used; taxi top-up grants to provide funding for the purchase of eligible vehicles; and to boost infrastructure for low emission taxis and private hire vehicles.
This comes alongside an additional £25 million for the Greater London area to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to greener vehicles in order to comply with taxi age limits coming into force in the capital from 2018, when all London taxis will need to be zero emission capable. The Mayor has also committed an additional £40 million for this purpose.
London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the funding earlier in Coventry, where a new £250 million state-of-the-art facility to produce the next generation of zero emission London black cabs is to be built (see airqualitynews.com story).
All taxis will also quality for the government’s plug-in car grant, which offers £5,000 off the cost of an eligible low emission vehicle and was last month extended to 2020 (see airqualitynews.com story).
The taxi funding follows yesterday’s (March 25) Department for Transport (DfT) announcement that the ultra low emission plug in van grant, first launched in 2012, is to be extended to 2020. The grant provides purchasers with a 20% discount of up to £8,000 on the upfront cost of an ultra low emission van.
The scheme also allows businesses that purchase the vans to take advantage of a range of tax incentives, including zero vehicle excise duty and no congestion charges in London.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “Ultra-low emission vans are cheaper to run and with a variety of models now eligible for the grant, there has never been a better time for business to take advantage and start saving money. The government is supporting UK companies that are leading the way on cleaner and greener transport.”
Since 2012 the initiative has supported over 1,250 vans, with vehicle running costs potentially as low as 2 pence per mile. One of the companies to supporting the scheme is logistics firm Gnewt Cargo, which claims to now have the largest 100% commercial electric fleet in the UK.
Gnewt Cargo co-founder and chief executive, Sam Clarke, said: “As a business we have grown significantly over the last few years in London and are expanding nationally in 2015. Our fleet of over 100 plug-in vans are economical to run and also help improve air quality in the capital.
“The plug-in van grant is a great way to encourage other fleets to take this same step. We are therefore delighted to hear that support for electric commercial fleets is set to continue.”
Meanwhile, the plug-in van grant extension was announced today alongside an additional £4 million to support for the early deployment of publically-accessible gas refuelling points for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) across the UK. Successful bidders for this money will be announced next year.
The investment would give businesses which use gas-powered trucks the flexibility to refuel en route, rather than having to specifically plan journeys between refuelling stations.
Baroness Kramer added: “This investment will make it even easier for British businesses to increase their uptake of cleaner gas powered HGVs. It will not just improve local air quality, but benefit those who develop and manufacture this technology and reinforces our commitment to the UK automotive industry.”