Over 150 plug-in vehicles will be added to British Government fleets in the first wave of a new plan to fund all government car fleets to purchase electric plug-in cars and vans, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced Thursday.
The £5 million (US$8.549 million) ultra low emission vehicle, or ULEV, readiness project is just the first step in plans to make electric cars and other plug-in vehicles commonplace in UK government fleets, said the minister, adding that the British Government is set to “lead by example.”
The Government Car Service, which provides cars for ministers, will lead the way. Its review is already underway and the Car Service plans to order the first electric cars in the autumn.The plan is intended to allow every central government fleet to review its arrangements and consider how greener vehicles can be used.
Baroness Kramer was joined at the launch of the scheme by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Minister of State for Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin.
Treasury Secretary Alexander, said, “I am delighted the Government Car Service is leading the move to electric vehicles, and I will be one of the first in line to use one. This is the right thing to do, with much lower running costs and close to zero emissions, these vehicles will save the taxpayer money and be much greener.”
“We are also investing significantly in ultra-low emission vehicles which will help ensure they play an important role in the UK economy as well as the environment,” Alexander said.
Baroness Kramer said, “Government must lead by example. Today’s investment will see government switching a significant number of plug-in cars and vans into our fleets and leading the electric charge.”
The scheme will be expanded in the autumn to allow the wider public sector, including councils, police forces and the National Health Service, to introduce a further 135 plug-in vehicles to their fleets.
Chargepoints will be installed to provide infrastructure support for the new cars and vans.
Cars and vans will be recommended on a like-for-like basis and the reviews will consider the whole life cost of the vehicles to ensure that each replacement makes economic sense.
The ministers said ultra-low emission vehicles will be a major area of future growth for the UK automotive sector, which is currently worth over £11 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy.
The £5 million scheme for getting ULEVs into government fleets is in addition to the support for the Go Ultra Low campaign being delivered in partnership with vehicle manufacturers and £500 million ($US1.36 billion)announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in April 2014.
That set of measures includes:
at least £200 million to continue the Plug In Car Grant, cutting up to £5000 off the price of a new ULEV car
£100 million for research and development
£35 million cities scheme
£20 million to encourage ULEV taxis
£30 million to boost the low emission bus market
£32 million for more chargepoints
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer began her career in finance and became a vice-president of Citibank in Chicago. She and her husband then set up Infrastructure Capital Partners, a firm which advised on infrastructure projects, primarily in central and eastern Europe. She was appointed Minister of State for Transport in October 2013. She is a Liberal Democrat Peer.
To fight pollution and drive the growing “new energy” car market across China, five government agencies Sunday jointly unveiled a plan encouraging government bodies to buy more pure electric and hybrid electric cars.
From 2014 to 2016, at least 30 percent of cars purchased by Chinese government agencies must be electrified vehicles, according to the plan released by the National Government Offices Administration (NGOA), the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The state news agency Xinhua quoted an NGOA spokesman as saying that the plan also applies to government agencies and public institutions in regions where controlling small particle emissions has become a challenge.
This year, new energy vehicles will account for at least 15 percent of new cars for local government departments and public institutions in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta.
The percentage will be raised year by year for government agencies, public institutions and organizations that are wholly or partially supported by government funds, the spokesman said.
To implement the plan, the central government promised to offer subsidies for new energy vehicles priced less than 180,000 yuan (US$29,000) after taking into account of the subsidies, and ordered local governments to build more facilities for the use of new energy vehicles.
The plan calls for the ratio of charging stations to new energy vehicles to be no less than 1:1.
Government agencies and public institutions will add new energy vehicle-only parking spaces, and policies favoring electric and hybrid cars will be introduced in the car plate lottery and car purchase quotas, according to the plan.
The plan is the second stimulus in a week to popularize the use of new energy vehicles.
On Wednesday, the Chinese government announced that new energy cars will be exempted from a 10 percent purchase tax starting from September 1, 2014 to the end of 2017.
In 2013, the State Council, China’s cabinet, published a five-year roadmap for the development of the energy industry from 2011 to 2015 that said charging services for half a million electric cars would be provided by 2015.
Due to government promotion, new energy vehicle manufacturers have proliferated in China. Currently, 97 Chinese manufacturers are capable of producing new energy vehicles, and 628 car models from these companies have appeared in a government recommendation catalog.
Yet, the number of electric and hybrid cars sold has been small.
In the first half of 2014, electric cars sold just 20,692 units and hybrid electric cars sold 20,477 units. These figures double the numbers sold during the same period last year and accounted for less than 0.2 percent of the nearly 11.7 million total vehicles sold in the same period.
Consumers have complained of poor infrastructure, such as difficult access to charging services, despite prices of new energy vehicles that appear attractive.
Xinhua quoted Hu Enping, a public relations executive of BAW’s new energy car division, who said the new plan will boost consumers’ confidence in electric and hybrid cars.
“Most consumers now worry about new energy vehicles’ technological stability, mileage, and charging services,” he said. “If the government starts to buy more cars, it means those aspects have been greatly improved.”