Eight U.K. cities are to share £40 million ($57 million) in government funding for programs to increase sales of electric vehicles by offering everything from free parking to access to bus lanes and “electric-car experience centers.”
Bristol, London, Milton Keynes and Nottingham were named as “Go Ultra Low Cities” and the main benefactors of the strategy, with Dundee, the North East, Oxford and York sharing seed funding for EV-specific projects.
The cities won the money with innovative ideas to roll out cutting edge technology, such as rapid-charging hubs and street lighting that can double as charging points.
Their proposals also include giving plug-in car owners further local privileges such as access to bus lanes in city centers.
London is getting £13 million ($18.5 million) to create “neighborhoods of the future” that give priority to EVs several boroughs across the capital. Proposals include low-emissions zones that offer parking and traffic priority to owners of plug-in vehicles.
Milton Keynes, 55 miles (89 km) northwest of London gets £9 million ($12.8 million) to open a downtown city Electric Vehicle Experience Centre, a one-stop shop providing consumer advice and short-term vehicle loans. The city also plans to make all 20,000 of its parking bays free to EVs. It will give plug-in vehicles the same priority at traffic lights as local buses, and allow access to bus lanes.
With a £7-million ($9.97 million) grant, Bristol will give ultra-low emissions vehicles access to three carpool lanes in the city and introduce a plug-in car leasing plan. Nottinghamshire and Derby will use £6 million ($8.8 million) to install 230 charge points and offer plug-in owners discount parking, plus access to bus lanes in key routes across the city. The investment will also pay for a new business support program letting local companies “try before they buy.”
The government also is giving £5 million ($7.1 million) of development funding for specific initiatives in Dundee, Oxford, York and North East regions. New commuter charging hubs in Dundee will open up links across the region for plug-in vehicle owners, while solar-canopied Park and Ride hubs in York will help reduce air pollution in and around the city.
The initiatives proposed by the Go Ultra Low cities are aimed at raising plug-in car numbers in the UK by about 100,000 by 2020. The cities will act as best-practice case studies for other UK regions.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says in a statement that the UK already is a world leader in acceptance of low-emissions vehicles and the government’s long-term plan involves spending £600 million ($854.9 million) by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve the goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.
The budget includes £400 million ($570 million) of guaranteed money with the Office for Low-Emission Vehicles for individual plug-in car grants, investment in low-emission buses and taxis and R&D funding for innovative technology such as lighter vehicles and longer-lasting car batteries.
The Go Ultra Low campaign is a consortium made up of vehicle manufacturers, government and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.