The UK Government has announced that ministers will be driving to official engagements in electric cars and Downing Street will be fitted with charging points. From autumn 2014, 150 electric cars will be added to the official Government fleet as ministers attempt to led by example and improve public confidence in plug-in vehicles.
The Department for Transport and the Government Car Service will be the first to receive the new cars but every central government fleet will ultimately be reviewed. Each department will be asked which cars can be replaced by what could be ‘like-for-like’ electric alternatives when the time comes for renewal; initial leases are expected to last 24 months.
Later in 2014 the wider public sector will be included in the new scheme worth £5 million; this means an extra 135 electric cars will be added to the fleets of the NHS, council and police force. This cash will also be used to add more charging points with several already planned at Downing Street which suggests that the Prime Minister will soon be driving an electric car.
Although there has been no list of electric vehicles decided upon as of yet, it is believed that the Vauxhall Ampera and Nissan Leaf are among the leading candidates while the Nissan E-NV2000 light van may replace works vehicles. The high-end vehicles in official fleets such as Range Rovers and Jaguars may be replaced by the Tesla Model S which costs between £50,000 and £68,000.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Image: Google UK
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said that the ultimate goal was to ensure government fleets were 100% electric in the future though he did acknowledge that there will be certain specific tasks when that gets more difficult or when the vehicle technology is not yet ready.
There are currently around 25,000 vehicles in Central Government department fleets with 9,000 in the Ministry of Defence, 1,500 in the Ministry of Justice and 5,000+ in the Environmental Agency. There are 85 cars in the Government Car Service which are used by ministers on official business; a number that has fallen dramatically from the 140+ used in 2011.
Alexander said that while every member of the Government wants to be involved in this including the Prime Minister, there were certain security issues that needed to be checked in order to find out if the Government leader would be driving an electric car.
This is the latest scheme by the UK Government in their bid to increase the sales of electric cars as they have not sold as well as previously anticipated. However, electric cars are becoming more popular even though there are some concerns. One of these issues relates to the upfront cost and the range of the cars. This is despite the fact that new electric cars are capable of travelling 100 miles before needing to be charged.
As the plug-in vehicles have a low running cost, it is hoped that the move will save the Government money in the long run as well as cementing Britain’s place as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electric cars.
The Transport Minister, Baroness Kramer, said the Government was putting its money where its mouth is and is completely committed to the development and sale of vehicles with extremely low emissions. The Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin, said that they were anxious to use the spending power of the Government to increase the likelihood of electric cars being embraced by the British public. He said that after investigation, it was decided that charging points could be placed along Downing Street so electric cars could be operated.