Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a £106m finance package to fund an “ambitious mission” for the UK to become a world leader in low-emission technology.
Speaking at the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Summit in Birmingham Mrs May said the money would be put towards research into electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well as battery technology.
She told the summit that she wanted Britain to lead from the front on low-emissions technology and work with industries and countries around the world to “spearhead change”.
The Prime Minister said: “That is why I have set this country an ambitious mission. To put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles, and for all new cars and vans to be, effectively, zero-emission by 2040.
“Already, we are taking significant strides forward. Our electric UK-manufactured cars account for one in five sold in Europe. Our batteries are among the best in the world.
“And our Road to Zero Strategy is the most comprehensive plan globally – mapping out, in detail, how we will reach our target for all new cars and vans to be, effectively, zero-emission by 2040 – and for every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050.
“Today we have provided over £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low emission vehicles and hydrogen technology. With a further £500 million of investment from key industries in this sector.
“These measures will drive the design, use, uptake and infrastructure necessary for cleaner, greener vehicles – and in doing so, it will help us drastically reduce a major contributor to our global warming emissions, as we seek to meet the Paris Climate Change Agreement.”
Mrs May’s announcement came as Aston Martin revealed its new facility at St Athan in Wales would be the centre for its future electrification projects. The luxury car maker said that production of its DBX electric SUV and RapidE saloon will be based at the former Ministry of Defence site, along with the new Lagonda brand.
Also announced at the summit was a £1m initiative from Lloyds Banking Group to offer motorists a £1,000 contribution to switching to a pure EV.
Just a dream
However, the Prime Minister’s announcement has been criticised for not address wider impediments to the progress of EVs.
Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at Compare the Market, commented: “The two key issues holding back electric cars from becoming the norm are the cost and the infrastructure. Electric cars, while often cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, can be expensive to buy. Coupled with a lack of network and charging stations, it’s clear to see the concerns some may have when looking to purchase an electric vehicle.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will invest £106 million into advancing the industry could go a long way to improving affordability. However, we are still some way away from reaching a point of critical mass where the manufacturing, repair, insurance and distribution costs of electric vehicles fall, meaning that, for a lot of people, the ambition to join the green revolution is still just a dream.”