FLEETS will be at the forefront of a new drive to incentivise clean fuels that, under new proposals, will see annual sales of fuel cell, hybrid and gas-powered models reach more than 250,000 within 10 years.
The strategy, part of an 11-point Government plan to clean up vehicle emissions through low-carbon fuels, also predicts that by 2020, fuel cell vehicles alone will account for more than 250,000 new car sales every year.
The targets are set out in a new document, Powering Future Vehicles, which has been created by four Government departments - the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and HM Treasury.
The plan consists of further investment in research, creating health and safety and technical standards for vehicles, boosting development of clean-fuel refuelling sites, offering new incentives for fleets to change selection policies, creating interest among private drivers, working with the European Union and ensuring effective links between Government departments.
Fleet vehicles will be included in a proposed carbon-trading scheme, which gives members licences to produce certain levels of emissions. If they produce less than their licence allows, they can sell credits to other companies. However, if they produce more, they will have to invest in credits to keep vehicles on the road.
Ministers say the future targets are 'challenging and market-stretching, but feasible' and are calling for fleets to help make the figures a reality.
Already the Government has offered a financial carrot for fleets to switch, with reduced fuel duty for alternative fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas and through tax reductions for all clean-fuel vehicles, including hybrids, under the new carbon dioxide-based company car tax system to be launched in April.
Transport Minister David Jamieson committed the Government's own fleets to the policy, despite a recent report showing many are failing to lead the way in cleaning up emissions.
To monitor the development of the strategy, a new Ministerial Group on Low-carbon Vehicles and Fuels has been set up, which will report annually on developments in take-up of low emission vehicles.