Department for Transport and Highways England unveil new multi-million pound funding plans to help accelerate transition to electric vehicles
The government has today marked World EV Day with a series of announcements designed to help accelerate the shift towards plug-in vehicles and make it easier for businesses to pilot the use of electric vans.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced it is to work with R&D agency Innovate UK to deliver a £12m funding package that will enable a series of competitions for some of the most promising EV technologies. The government said the funding would support a “range of ground-breaking projects designed to open up significant commercial opportunities, one of which could see cars of the future benefitting from a six-minute battery charge”.
Meanwhile, Highways England has today kicked off a £9.3m scheme that will allow businesses to try electric vehicles (EVs) for free before they buy.
The initiative will see Highways England work with local authorities to offer businesses with diesel van fleets a free trial of electric models for two months. The move follows a successful pilot scheme with Leeds City Council earlier earlier this year.
“We are working with councils across the country to encourage businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles and we expect many more to start using electric vehicles when they experience the savings possible,” said Highways England chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan. “This is a key example of how we are using designated funds to benefit the environment and communities around our roads as well as the people travelling and working on them.”
DfT also confirmed today it is considering a series of policy recommendations put forward by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) that are designed to accelerate the adoption of EVs.
The recent OLEV report proposed moves to install more chargepoints at popular destinations such as tourist sites, standardise public signage for drivers on UK roads, and provide guidance to local authorities on painting EV parking spaces green.
In addition, the government also revealed it has been working with Auto Trader to develop a dedicated EV section on the brand’s website to help potential EV purchasers navigate the fast-expanding market.
“Whether you’re taking a trip with the family or commuting to work, with the wide range of models at competitive prices, it is now more cost-effective and convenient than ever to drive and charge an electric vehicle,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “This together with our continued support for R&D, will see talented UK-based SMEs flourish, as well as more than 6,000 skilled jobs created up and down the country.
“This is why, on the world’s first ever day dedicated to celebrating electric vehicles, I’m delighted to announce our unwavering support for a cleaner, greener transport future.”
The latest announcement comes ahead of a critical autumn for the government’s green transport plans, with campaigners calling on Ministers to pull forward the planned date for ending the sale of internal combustion engine cars and ensure increased support for EV infrastructure features heavily in the Treasury’s promised ‘green recovery’ package.
The importance of charging infrastructure to the EV roll out was further highlighted yesterday by the results of a survey commissioned by Ford, which revealed nearly half of motorists would not consider buying an EV due to concerns about charge point availability.