The UK government has put its money where its mouth is by collectively placing an order for more than 142 ultra-low emission plug-in vehicles to join various governmental departments and agencies throughout the country.
Announced yesterday, the mass vehicle order is part of a £5 million commitment from the current administration to reduce the emissions of governmental fleet transport and coincides with the announcement earlier today of the Go Ultra Low City Scheme — a new £35 million fund designed to help allow four UK cities to become centres of excellence for low-emission vehicles by replacing public transportation and governmental fleets to replace their existing fleets with low-emission vehicles.
The order, which includes all-electric and plug-in cars and vans, involves fifteen different departments and agencies within the UK Government, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Government Car Service. In total, 64 of the vehicles ordered will be fully electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF electric car, with the rest being made up of plug-in vehicles like the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid.
According to an official governmental spokesperson, a government review ahead of the order investigated the fleet needs of each of the departments involved, then made a suggestion to department heads as to which vehicles would best suit their individual needs. Once the review was complete, agency and departmental heads were then given the chance to take up the review’s recommendations by placing an order for the vehicles recommended.
While we don’t have the full breakdown of vehicles for each agency and department involved at the time of writing, we can tell you that the Government Car Service — which provides ministerial transportation services — only accounts for four of the vehicles ordered, meaning it’s unlikely we’ll see that that many cabinet ministers arriving to official functions in a plug-in vehicle, at least for now.
That could leave readers remembering gaffe made last year by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who after proudly announcing a new UK Government scheme for plug-in cars, was accused of double-standards by claiming no electric car was suitable for his family’s daily needs.
On mentioning this unfortunate incident, the government spokesperson we talked to today was keen to impress that yesterday’s announcement is the first phase in a larger project designed to demonstrate how efficient and effective ultra-low plug-in vehicles can be in a fleet environment. The ultimate goal, we were told, was to encourage greater take-up of greener, cleaner vehicles across the UK government in the coming years.
That would include increasing plug-in vehicle use across the entire governmental fleet.
Alongside the announcement of the new plug-in vehicle order, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer confirmed that some of the £5 million investment would be taken up by the wider public sector, funding the purchase of plug-in vehicles with local councils, police forces and the NHS as well as providing charging for visitors and staff through ‘pay-to-use’ charging points.
“This is an important step. These cars will save taxpayers money on running costs and will bring low emissions benefits to our fleet,” she said. “Today’s announcement proves that Britain is leading the electric charge while supporting the growth of this important industry.”
In recent months, sales of private electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have rocketed, prompted by more consumer choice and wider public awareness. Combined with continued plug-in infrastructure development and the runaway success of vehicles like the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, more than 22,500 plug-in vehicles have been sold in the UK since the UK government started its plug-in vehicle grant scheme in 2010.
Do you think the UK government is leading by example? Are you disappointed so few ministerial vehicles will have a plug? Or would you have preferred to see the funds spent elsewhere?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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