Nissan and Renault back UK electric vehicle policy shift

Two of the world's largest manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles have backed the Department for Transport's plans to extend the plug-in car grant by at least two years.

Both Nissan – the manufacturer of the world’s bestselling EV the Nissan LEAF – and Renault – a leading pioneer in the emerging EV market – are pushing to improve infrastructure in order to develop on the wave of momentum that the plug-in car grant looks set to create.

Nissan has already sold more than 11,000 all-electric Nissan LEAFs in the UK as well as 1,000 electric vans. The plug-in car grant, which could encourage more than 100,000 UK motorists to buy greener vehicles, looks set to add to these numbers.

James Wright, Nissan Motor (GB) managing director, said: “Today’s decision by Government has reaffirmed their commitment to the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles. With Government support and Nissan’s investment of over £420m into electric vehicles in the UK, our British made Nissan LEAF has increased in popularity with many UK customers already enjoying the benefits of zero emission and low cost driving.

“This announcement, together with ongoing infrastructure developments, should see the growth and wider deployment of this technology continue.”

From the end of November 2015, sales of the Renault ZOE in the UK were up by 144% to 1,617 vehicles – significantly outpacing a growing UK electric car market that was up by 50% and stood at 8,417 vehicles.

Ken Ramirez, managing director, Renault UK said: “We welcome the significant changes to the grant structure announced today. Differentiating Ultra Low Emission Vehicles into three categories and placing a clear £2,000 financial benefit for choosing the most environmentally friendly Category One vehicles over the other two categories is recognition that the UK sees a strong future in zero tailpipe emission vehicles and the air quality benefits they offer.”

Clean Air Zones

The new all-electric vehicle drive meshes with another government announcement that Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton will all be used as ‘clean air zones’ by 2020.

In a move to lower pollution in areas considered to contain the poorest air quality, high polluting vehicles, such as old buses, will be charged if they enter the zones. However the government has confirmed that private cars will not be affected by the charges.

EIC’s executive director Matthew Farrow said:  “We welcome the confirmation that Clean Air Zones with specific vehicle emission requirements will be implemented in several major cities across the UK.

“We have long-called for a national framework for such zones along with a national accreditation scheme for relevant emissions control technologies and are pleased Ministers have now committed to putting this in place.  We will work closely with Government on the implementation of the CAZs.

 “We also welcome the recognition that alternative fuels have a role to play, and the pledge to reform Government Buying Standards for vehicles to ensure they prioritise lower NOx emissions as well as CO2.”

Earlier this month an Ofgem-funded project warned that almost one third of UK local power networks could be overloaded if electric vehicles (EVs) become a mainstream motoring choice.

Matt Mace

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