MOTORISTS who drive electric cars could be allowed to park for free and drive in bus lanes in certain towns and cities across Yorkshire under radical plans unveiled today.
Town halls are being given the opportunity to bid for a new £35m pot of Whitehall money to support the roll-out of so-called ultra-low emission vehicles over the coming years.
Winning areas across Britain will be given ‘ultra-low’ status by the Government and encouraged to give incentives to electric car drivers through initiatives such as free parking and bus lanes.
The move is part of a £500m investment in the burgeoning electric car industry unveiled this morning by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. “This is about creating a culture change in our towns and cities so that driving a greener vehicle is a no-brainer for most drivers,” the Sheffield Hallam MP said.
Electric cars are widely seen as the future of motoring because of their minimal environmental impact and running costs which are just a fraction of traditional petrol-reliant vehicles. However, take-up has so far been limited due to their relatively high cost and public concern about the distance they can travel before they need re-charging.
Mr Clegg said the Government will invest £100m in research and development to improve the technologies involved, and £32m to install large numbers of ‘rapid charge points’ across the motorway and A-road network by 2020, so that drivers can easily top up their vehicles. The new charge points mean a car can be charged in around 20 minutes.
Mr Clegg said the Government’s existing scheme which offers a £5,000 discount on all new electric cars will be extended to at least 2017, or until at least 50,000 grants have been claimed. This is worth at least £200m.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “The UK has the potential to emerge as a world leader in the development, design and manufacture of green vehicles.
“Owning an electric car is no longer a dream or an inconvenience.
“Manufacturers are turning to this new technology to help motorists make their everyday journeys green and clean.”