Transport secretary Geoff Hoon and business secretary Lord Mandelson are set to launch a new government initiative this week, offering British consumers up to £5000 off the cost of a new electric car, in a major initiative to develop electric car cities in the UK.

The move is part of a £250m strategy to clean up Britain's road networks and to cut carbon emissions by 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050

"Something like 35% of all our carbon emissions are caused by domestic transport," Hoon told the Guardian, of which "58% of the emissions are caused by motor cars."

"Given that 60% of journeys by car are under 25 miles, there's no reason why someone using a car for commuting on a regular basis will not be able to charge up their car at home, take it to work and come home again well within the distance an electric vehicle should be able to travel," Hoon said.

Electric education

Hoon is keen to educate British motorists that electric cars are a viable option, noting "without being unkind to existing electric vehicles, they won't be slightly odd, they will be cars that conform to appropriate safety standards and we can use on an everyday basis."

John Loughhead, executive director of the UK Energy Research Centre, added a note of caution, noting that while the government "has developed for itself some high aspirations in the role the UK is going to play... the question really is it doesn't tell you exactly how they're going to do it."

An editorial in today's Guardian also criticises Hoon's "cash for clunkers" scheme, branding it "a dreadful idea" and argues that, "caught between a recession and the threat of climate change, a cash-strapped government is grasping for plausible off-the-peg solutions... We should be thinking about electric buses and more trains rather than cars, and emphasising public rather than private transport."

Further details on how the cash incentive scheme will work are set to be unveiled shortly.

Via The Guardian