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£24m boost for low-carbon vehicle development

The Government’s commitment to build a future for low-carbon and electric vehicles through subsidies to buyers and grants to manufacturers was confirmed in a key note speech by transport minister Philip Hammond.

Speaking at a low-carbon vehicle event that attracted electric vehicle makers, Hammond pledged a further £24 million to further develop the UK's low carbon vehicle capability.

His announcement came ahead of the autumn spending review, which will be published on October 20 and is predicted to contain public spending cuts of up to 25%.

The £24m of public money will fund six projects including the development of new engines for plug-in hybrid versions of Nissan, Lotus and Jaguar Land Rover cars, and the development of a lightweight, hybrid diesel van.

The minister also set out the eligibility criteria for its plug-in car grant, which starts in January 2011 and will give buyers a grant of up to £5,000 to purchase electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-fuelled cars.

The Government has confirmed that £43m will be available up to the end of March 2012, but the final budget beyond 2011/12 will not be confirmed until the spending review is announced.

To be eligible, cars must meet appropriate safety standards and must have been crash tested. They must also meet minimum range and performance criteria (go to www.dft.gov.uk/olev to view the criteria in full).

"I am determined to make this Government the greenest ever and transport will have a key role to play. But this will not be achieved by forcing people off the road - it's not the car that's the problem, it's the carbon,” said Hammond. "We can't ignore the fact that 84% of journeys are made by car and there is no realistic prospect of displacing the private car for point to point complex journeys.”

Finally the government also issued guidance to 15 areas interested in bidding for the second round of the Plugged-In-Places infrastructure programme. The programme provides Government money to fund charging point networks to be created in the winning areas.

£8.8m has already been awarded to London, Milton Keynes and the North East through the programme. 

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