Professors David Bailey and Nigel Berkeley (Coventry’s Applied Research Centre for Sustainable Regeneration) agree that, as new markets often need some state support to get moving, government is right to encourage the take-up of low carbon vehicles. They find, however, that its attempts have failed to have any significant real impact – to date.

They regret that the Plug-in Car Grant for private car buyers and fleets, worth up to £5,000 and available for the purchase of at least nine electric cars, failed to have any significant impact due to poor advertising and promotion, in marked contrast with the scrappage scheme of 2009-10.

Promotion of the findings of the Technology Strategy Board funded low carbon vehicle projects, with regard to the performance, practicality and suitability of EVs is recommended, to enable car buyers to make informed choices.

The latest data from the plug-in grant scheme is cited, showing that just over 3,000 electric vehicles have been registered to date and – according to the DfT website – around 3,000 charging points installed, currently many more points than electric cars.

Electric buses are now running on park-and-ride routes in Coventry

Electric buses are now running on park-and-ride routes in Coventry

Instead of the proposed award of £37 million of funding for the installation of thousands more electric vehicle charging points across the UK, government is advised by Bailey and Berkeley to look beyond private mass market purchases:

  • car2go3It could give subsidies to encourage the use of EVs in clubs/schemes that operate on a car share, pay-as-you-drive hire basis, such as Car2go. Currently operating in London, drivers can hire vehicles by the minute with fuel, insurance, road tax, and maintenance included in the price. They are exempt from the congestion charge and have free parking.
  • Subsidies could also promote the replacement of public and private sector fleets with EVs. Two micro-level initiatives from Coventry and Warwickshire are worth highlighting. Electric buses are now running on park-and-ride routes in Coventry.

EV doctors trialJust Auto reports that in Warwickshire doctors from two local health centres will trial Peugeot iOn EVs for local home visits, prescription delivery and on-call services. The EVs have been fitted with tracking devices to enable their journeys to be recorded throughout the project with data being analysed by Coventry University to see if electric vehicles are suited to the needs of UK GPs, health centres and similar rural businesses.

Read the blog about charging-up the market and sparking interest in electric cars here:

Professor David Bailey and Professor Nigel Berkeley both work at the Applied Research Centre for Sustainable Regeneration at Coventry University Business School