Slow start for low carbon transport, but it is happening says Justine Greening MP
By Will Dron on May 12, 2012 10:43 AM
The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, delivered a rousing speech in full support of low carbon vehicles at the 2012 LowCVP Conference this week.
But rather than favouring the electrification of vehicles, Greening said the Government is not going to favour one type of technology over another. Pure electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, biofuel and more efficient petrol and diesel engines will all be getting Government support as it puts the UK on course to reduce national CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.
“Over the last 10 years, the average new car fuel efficiency has improved 30%, which is a dramatic improvement,” Greening told the conference, which took place alongside the EcoVelocity motorshow. “On average, a new car today is 23% cleaner than a car designed and built in 2000. But I still think ultimately that if we’re going to meet our carbon targets, we’re going to have to harness a whole range of new types of motoring technology.”
Greening highlighted key support for the electric vehicles industry, such as the extension of the £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant and the new £8,000 Plug-in Van Grant, as well as the investment in public charging infrastructure. However, she made it clear that the Government will not be “technology specific” in shifting the public to low carbon vehicles.
“We think that there’s a market out there for different technologies,” said Greening. “We want to do what we can to help that market develop naturally so that consumers have a real choice when they make that switch.”
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP gets a briefing on the new Vauxhall Ampera extended range electric car before driving it at EcoVelocity 2012
The Transport Secretary also acknowledged that the perception at the moment may be that the low carbon vehicle industry has had a slow start – perhaps a nod to steady but not overwhelming sales of electric vehicles during 2011 – but said she believes with the proper support we will begin to see the industry take off.
“I think we are moving along steadily now and I think that that move from petrol and diesel to low and zero carbon vehicles is definitely underway,” she said. “And in fact, I would argue, if we play our cards right, that we can really encourage it to pick up speed over the next 12 to 24 months.”
"Just like the champions of the internal combustion engine a century ago, it’s our generation… us... we have a golden opportunity to change the world and change motoring once again."
Greening started her speech by reminding us that electric cars were a significant part of the new car market when they first hit the road 100 years ago, before mass production of petrol cars and the ready availability of low cost fuel tipped the balance for the internal combustion engine. She ended the speech by suggesting the industry is once again returning to that early, pioneering spirit.
“Once upon a time, the future looked as if it belonged to low carbon vehicles and I want to end by arguing that history is turning full circle now. And just like the champions of the internal combustion engine a century ago, it’s our generation… us... we have a golden opportunity to change the world and change motoring once again. It may not be easy, and these early days may have felt like quite slow days, but it is happening, and I think it can be done. So my message is, ‘let’s go for it; I’ll be behind you all the way’.”