Transport Experts Spark Global Electric Car Industry

LONDON, UK, October 27, 2008 (ENS) – Cars around the world will one day be propelled by electric motors, transportation expert Daniel Sperling told a meeting of international transportation experts and policymakers in London today.

Sperling said the transformation of automobiles and the entire automotive industry has begun with gasoline-electric hybrids, and will continue in the next decades with the wide adoption of plug-in electric hybrids, battery-only electric cars, and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Director of the University of California Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, Sperling was the keynote speaker at the first meeting of its kind, where industry experts and government officials are strategizing on how to jumpstart the mass market production of low carbon and electric vehicles.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the conference after discussions about transportation energy reform this summer at the Jeddah International Energy Conference in Saudi Arabia, the G8 Summit in Tokyo, and the British International Motor show in London.

Manufactured in Canada, the Zenn electric
car is displayed at the Linden Hills Co-op
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo
courtesy Linden Hills Co-op)

“I am delighted that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has shown such leadership by taking this first critical step forward in the UK,” said Sperling. “He is to be commended in calling this important international meeting and setting the ball rolling for a low carbon vehicle future for the UK.”

The two-day conference is hosted by the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

New initiatives to put Britain at the forefront of a green motoring revolution by encouraging a mass market in electric and hybrid cars have been announced today.

With the potential to create up to 10,000 new British jobs and help preserve many thousands more, the electric car push comes as part of wider plans by the Brown Government to make the most of the low carbon economy, with estimates that around a million green jobs could be generated by 2030.

Fulfilling the prime minister’s pledge this summer to speed up the delivery of low carbon and electric vehicles for ordinary motorists, experts from across the globe are gathered in Whitehall today to examine how to turn this into a reality.

At the meeting, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon set out the government’s next steps to deliver a £100 million commitment to accelerate the emergence of greener vehicles.

Motor manufacturers will be invited to bid for the opportunity to participate in a £10 million project to run electric car and ultra-low carbon vehicle demonstration projects, overseen by the Technology Strategy Board.

As a result, 100 electric cars will be provided in UK towns and cities by the end of 2009 to allow motorists the opportunity to provide feedback on the practical steps needed to make greener motoring an everyday reality.

An electric Zecar by Stevens, a new British
manufacturer of electric cars and vans, top
speed 56 miles per hour (Photo courtesy

“Electric cars and other low carbon vehicles, like plug-in hybrids, cut fuel costs and reduce harmful emissions. If we can inspire more people to use them, it will help us to make a positive impact on climate change,” said Hoon.

Research and manufacture of electric vehicles is an emerging industry that ministers say has the potential to create new jobs and safeguard existing employment in the UK.

Secretary of State for Business, Lord Mandelson, said, “Investment in greener motoring forms part of our plan to put the UK at the forefront of the new low carbon revolution. We know our automotive sector has a global reputation for taking forward new technology and we want the UK to be at the heart of new developments in electric vehicles.”

Up to £20m has been dedicated to UK research into improving technology that could make electric and other green cars more practical and affordable.

Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, said, “The technologies for low carbon vehicles are developing fast, whether for all-electric, hybrid or alternative fuels. The challenge for the UK is to ensure industry takes full advantage of this shift and explores opportunities now, to position itself as a world leader in low carbon vehicle technology in the long term.”

“To do this, the government-funded Technology Strategy Board is providing further investment of up to £30m to support industry R&D and demonstrations of electric and other low carbon vehicles,” said Drayson.

Technology Strategy Board’s Chief Executive Iain Gray, said, “Low carbon vehicle technology is exciting, practical and, most importantly, real. Such vehicles are already on our roads and as the technology continues to improve rapidly, they will only become more effective and more widely used. Low carbon vehicles offer the combined advantages of reducing our reliance on oil and reducing emissions.”

The government is working with energy companies and the National Grid to assess the impact on the electricity system of the widespread use of electric drive vehicles.

The government has committed to facilitate the roll-out of infrastructure for charging electric vehicles and to collaborating with other countries to develop international standards.

To encourage the mass production of green vans for the first time, the Department for Transport announced today that 10 companies have been shortlisted to bid to provide electric and low carbon vans to public sector bodies such as the Royal Mail, as part of a £20 million program to ensure all road transport emissions are reduced.

Battery-powered Citroën Berlingo electric vans
line up at the ELCIDIS goods distribution
service in La Rochelle, France. (Photo by
L. Hoon)

The 10 companies are: Ford, Mercedes Benz, Citroen, Ashwoods, Land Rover, Modec, Smiths, Electric Vehicles, LDV, Nissan and Allied Vehicles.

Shortlisted to bid on a low carbon van are Ford, Mercedes Benz, Citroen, Ashwoods, and Land Rover.

Approved to bid on an all electric van are Modec, Smiths, Electric Vehicles, LDV, Nissan, and Allied Vehicles.

Transport Secretary Hoon said, “Vans make up around 15 percent of road transport emissions in the UK, and their emissions are rising more than any other mode of road transport.

“That’s why we are committed to this new program to help kick-start the market,” he said. “In the public sector there is considerable demand for vans so we want to use our spending power to lead the way in developing lower carbon options that will appeal across the board.”

Liverpool, Newcastle, Gateshead, Coventry, Glasgow and Leeds will be among the first councils to allow the green vans on their streets.

On Tuesday, discussions will continue at Millbrook, Bedfordshire at the National Low Carbon Vehicle event.

Participants in the meeting include industry, academia and government representatives from Japan, India, France, Germany, the United States, Canada, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Israel, Czech Republic, Norway and Sweden.

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