Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched a call for evidence to the automotive industry, seeking opinions on how government’s £500 million investment, announced earlier in the year, can be spent to position the UK as a global leader in ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).
In what Mr Clegg called, “a big push to one of the most promising of our green industries”, government’s call for evidence will scope out where emphasis should be placed for ULEV funding from 2015 to 2020.
Government will seek out expertise from across the automotive industry, as well as local authorities and fleet managers, to discuss ways to encourage people into ULEVs, and the areas that should receive the closest attention. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, will also personally provide guidance to government on the project, which will be considered alongside views from across industry.
Unveiling the plans, Mr Clegg said, “The UK’s automotive industry has undergone a renaissance in recent years and we have the potential to emerge as a trailblazer in the development, design and manufacture of green cars.
“The additional £500 million will build on the £400 million government has already committed from 2010 to 2015 to take low emission vehicles from a niche to a mainstream market – with support to increase plug in points, boost consumer interest, and strengthen research and development.
“A thriving auto sector is vital to the UK economy – it is currently worth over £11 billion to our economy and represents 7% of all manufacturing output. A strong foothold in low emission automotive technologies will be vital to its ongoing success.”
Plans to capitalise on the sector’s huge potential, both as a UK manufacturing proposition and a carbon reduction option, were first announced in July 2013 when Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin set aside the fund.
“Government’s plans to invest £500 million in enhancing the future of automotive in the UK is excellent news for industry and motorists,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “SMMT will provide government with considered feedback on behalf of the UK automotive industry to ensure that this funding facilitates the ongoing development and introduction of ultra-low carbon vehicles.”
The market for plug-in electric vehicles has grown hugely since their mass-market introduction around three years ago. While numbers are still relatively small as early adopters test the market and manufacturers increase their provision of different models, this latest round of funding is sure to help accelerate the market.
Motorists can already benefit from up to £5,000 off the price of a new plug-in car or van thanks to a government scheme. Additionally, buyers of the cleanest vehicles benefit from zero VED, free parking in many areas and running costs of around just three pence per mile.