January 26th, 2016 § Comments Off on Will this work? – We hope so: “Electric cars to use bus lanes in UK cities” § permalink
From Guardian Website
UK cities are to allow electric car drivers to beat congestion by using bus lanes, as part of a government drive to encourage uptake of the cleaner vehicles.
Milton Keynes and Derby will copy similar measures in Norway and allow the cars to drive in miles of bus lanes, while owners in Hackney will be able to plug in at street lights. York drivers will be able to recharge their batteries at a solar-powered park-and-ride and electric car owners in Bristol and Milton Keynes will be allowed to park for free.
The schemes were announced by the Department for Transport on Monday as part of a £40m pot shared out among eight towns and cities. Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London are the main beneficiaries, but Dundee, Oxford, York, Derby have also won funding.
Electric cars are seen as a key way for the UK to meet its carbon budgets and cut the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution that blight many British cities. While still relatively niche compared to combustion engine cars, the number of 100% electric cars registered in 2015 nearly doubled on the year before, to 9,934.
In Norway, incentives including generous tax breaks and allowing electric cars in bus lanes have spurred uptake of the cars which now account for nearly one in five of all new cars sold.
London, which suffers the worst air pollution in the UK, gets the lion’s share of the funding. The Go Ultra Low fund will give the capital £13m for “neighbourhoods of the future” in several boroughs, where electric cars will be prioritised over other vehicles.
The transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin , said: “I want to see thousands more greener vehicles on our roads and I am proud to back this ambition with £40m to help the UK become international pioneers of emission-cutting technology.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, gave the initiatives a cautious welcome but said ultimately it was up to industry to drive take-up.
“We are all in favour of encouraging drivers to go ultra-green, but the risk of relying on perks such as access to bus lanes, free parking and exemption from London’s congestion charge is that they can be at odds with other policies such as promoting public transport and easing congestion,” he said.
The government has pledged to continue a long-running electric car grant, but it will decrease in April from the maximum £5,000 currently available to between £2,500 and 4,500, depending on which models buyers choose.
October 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on VW’s ‘dieselgate’ puts spotlight on electric cars in Germany § permalink
The pollution-cheating scandal that has engulfed auto giant Volkswagen is turning up the heat on the German government to make more determined headway in its self-declared “electromobility” goals, analysts say.
The “bitter irony” of the scam that has rocked the automobile sector around the world and plunged the once-respected carmaker into a major crisis, is that the billions of euros VW could potentially face in fines “could have been used to finance an entire electric car programme,” complained Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks recently.
Over the past six years, Berlin has put up 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for research into an electric car, the minister pointed out. And her ministry is looking into a series of measures to promote the electric car, such as tax incentives and purchase subsidies.
Her colleague at the Economy Ministry, Sigmar Gabriel, has said he was ready to support financial incentives, without specifying what form they should take.
And he is in favour of introducing quotas for electric vehicles in the car fleets of public authorities, with the aim of boosting demand.
Such ideas are enthusiastically welcomed by VDIK, the association of international motor vehicle manufacturers, which is calling for a purchase discount of “at least 5,000 euros” per electric car during a still undefined “transition period.”
In 2009, the German government formulated a goal to have around one million electric cars on the road by 2020. And it restated that target earlier this year.
But the goal is looking increasingly ephemeral and at the half-way point, the concrete numbers are woefully short of target, with a meagre 19,000 vehicles on the roads in Germany in September 2015.
The government’s goal “is quite simply not achievable,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Research in Bergisch Gladbach.
There was “a lot of euphoria, but no vision for a feasible economic model” for the electric car in Germany, he complained.
– ‘Concerted action’ –
The VW scandal may provide a chance to restart the electromobility debate in Germany.
“But for that, real concerted action is needed between automakers, suppliers and the authorities,” Bratzel said.
Offering car buyers a purchase discount would likely prove only a flash in the pan with regard to kickstarting overall demand, the expert argued.
The main determining factors for the lasting success of electric vehicles would be considerations of “battery autonomy, infrastructure and price,” Bratzel insisted.
Public subsidy of any electromobility initiative remains controversial.
The opposition environmentalist Green party is calling for a general overhaul of the system of taxes for vehicles, arguing that powerful, big-cylinder and pollutant engines should face the highest levies.
But that is a road the government appears reluctant to go down.
Instead, Berlin announced, just a week after the VW scandal broke, the construction of 400 battery-charging stations for electric cars at motorway service stations by 2017, as well as a number of “privileges” for electric vehicles on public roads.
They would, for example, be allowed to use bus lanes and benefit from free parking in towns and cities.
However, at the end of the day, it is the local and municipal authorities that have the final word on such initiatives and they “have no interest in jamming the bus lanes with private cars, even if they are electric cars,” said Bratzel.
As time progresses and the dream of electromobility remains pie-in-the-sky, environmentalist groups are losing patience.
“Every year, Germany squanders seven billion euros on privileges for diesel, which is a pollutant technology,” said Daniel Moser, who is responsible for transport issues at Greenpeace Germany.
The activists believe it will simply not be enough to transfer the privileges to electric vehicles.
What was needed was an entire ecological urban transport system, ranging from trams, to bicycles and electric buses, “not just more private electric cars clogging up towns,” Greenpeace said.
April 30th, 2014 § Comments Off on Park for free and use the bus lane – if you drive an electric car § permalink
Drivers of electric cars could use bus lanes and park for free under government plans.
Councils will be given millions of pounds in extra funding if they grant special privileges to drivers of electric vehicles, under a £500 million scheme to make drivers “feel confident” about buying them. It should be a “no-brainer” to own one, said Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
Every motorway service station is to have a charging point by the end of this year that can power a car for a 100-mile journey in 20 minutes. There are 500 more chargers planned in the next year.
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