UK begins major trial of electric cars

Posted by Emma Woollacott

London, UK - The British government has launched a £25 million national trial of electric cars, the biggest such trial in the world.


Transport secretary Lord Adonis and Science minister Lord Drayson tipped up to the launch of the trial in a Smart car and Mini E respectively. Nevertheless, Lord Drayson, Science minister in the newly formed Department for Business Innovation & Skills, said, "Low carbon doesn't mean low performance. Modern electric cars offer power and bucketloads of torque. Today's announcement signals our intent to reduce our dependence on petrol- and diesel-based engines, and determine the best practical alternatives."


Lord Adonis said, "Our aim is for ultra-low carbon vehicles to be an everyday feature of life on Britain's roads in less than five years.  This is a challenging target and there is still a long way to go.  However, if we continue to work closely with motorists and the industry with initiatives like the demonstrations project, I believe it is achievable."


Approximately 340 vehicles will begin trials on UK roads within the next six to eighteen months. The majority are electric, with a small number being plug-in petrol/electric hybrids. A spokesperson for the Technology Strategy Board told TG Daily that information will be gathered on driving patterns, battery life and where people charge their vehicles.


She said that participants will be able to charge their vehicles at home, or at public charging points. Some 300 have already been installed, with another 500 to be introduced as part of the trial by energy companies Eon and EDF Energy. "The infrastructure is incredibly important," she said. "The money isn't just going to the manufacturers, it's going to the energy companies and to universities to analyse the data."


It's hoped that the information gained will accelerate the development of low-carbon vehicles for the mass market and help work out where best to site charging points.


See also Mitsubishi preps range of electric cars; and Electric cars: the shocking truth.