Charge! Public sector bids for ULEV funding

Police cars, fire engines and ambulances could all soon be powered by electricity – if the government gets its way. The NHS, the fire service and the police are among the 35 or so public sector organisations being asked to bid for a share of a new £5 million funding scheme to support ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).
Announced by Baroness Kramer, transport minister, the scheme will offer successful organisations a fully funded fleet review to identify how to introduce greener vehicles. “We want the public sector to lead by example,” she said.  “This £5 million investment will see a significant increase in the number of plug-in vehicles used by public bodies such as local authorities, police forces and the NHS.”

Civil actions

The government’s public sector ULEV scheme has been around since last year. Fifteen government departments took part in the first phase, and around 150 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will start entering their fleets from next month as a result. It is hoped this second phase will see more than 200 more plug-in vehicles added to the fleets of a range of public sector organisations – including the emergency services.

Thin green line

You may find the idea of an electric police car bizarre – but an electric fire engine? Really? But the fact is, attitudes to ‘alternative’ fuel cars need to change, as plug-in vehicles look set to become commonplace on our roads over the next few years – with performance and range become less significant all the time. Consider this: the number of ULEVs bought in the UK last year was four times greater than the total for 2013. And it looks to set to continue to rise, with manufacturers such as Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan and Renault supporting the “Go Ultra Low” campaign.

Public service

The government is also doing its best to ensure more road users choose electric or plug-in hybrid cars. In April last year, for example, it announced £500 million of fresh ULEV funding, with £200 million earmarked for the Plug-in Car Grant that knocks up to £5,000 off the cost of a qualifying car. (Or de facto adds £5,000 to the list price of said cars, depending on your perspective…) The fund also includes: - £100 million for research and development - £32 million to create more chargepoints for electric car users, and - £20 million to encourage taxi drivers to choose ULEVs. Even local buses may soon go electric, with another £30 million set aside to boost the low-emission bus market.

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