The shortlist of potential schemes will receive a government-backed feasibility study into providing greener transport opportunities in their area.

The areas shortlisted for the investment include Birmingham, Cambridge, Coventry, Dundee, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield and West Yorkshire combined authority.

The cities’ feasibility assessments will look to gather information on how the local authorities could use the money to reduce upfront costs of new, purpose-built ultra low-emission vehicles (ULEVs) and install charging infrastructure.

Cleaner tech

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “Plug-in taxis are cheaper to run, better for the environment and an example of Britain leading the way in an innovative industry. That is why the Government is investing £500m in low-emission vehicles over the next five years to make them an accessible and affordable choice for all.”

Jones added: “These cities have shown they are committed to adopting greener technology and the Government is backing their ambition by showing the benefits a share of £20m of funding could deliver.”

The cities must apply for the funding with a feasibility study complete by April 2016.

The feasibility studies will be carried out by the Energy Savings Trust. The organisation’s chief executive Philip Sellwood – who is a judge at this year’s Sustainability Leaders Awards – said: “Our experience in this area gives us every confidence that organisations as diverse licensing authorities, car manufacturers, district network operators and charge-point installers can become leading players in rolling out ultra-low emission taxis and private hire vehicles right across the country.”

ULEV growth

The move follows plans for the development of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will see the deployment of low-emission buses and hybrid taxis in the capital.

Zero-emission black cabs are set to enter mass production for London next year. £50m is being invested in the production run with hybrid Metrocabs expected to be about three times more fuel efficient than the standard London black cabs.

The Government is currently investing £500m in research and development work for hybrid and electric vehicles to boost uptake. Around £100m has been committed to improving charging technology and £32m for installing rapid charge points across the ‘M’ and ‘A’ road networks.

Matt Field

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