The government yesterday released an additional £4m of funding support for electric trucks in an attempt to bolster efforts to green the country’s haulage fleet.
Businesses purchasing electric trucks above 3.5 tonnes will now be eligible for grants of up to £20,000, thanks to extra funding made available through the Plug-In Van grant scheme.
The Plug-In Van grant scheme was established in 2012 to help firms switch their commercial cars and vans to electric alternatives.
But adoption rates have been slower than hoped, despite evidence that electric vans help to cut corporate fleet running costs. The government is now keen to accelerate the rollout of commercial electric vehicles (EVs), as most commercial vehicles are diesel powered and are therefore a major contributor to poor air quality in city centres.
“The electric car revolution is well under way with consumers and this funding will encourage more businesses to consider switching to cleaner vans and trucks,” business and energy secretary Greg Clark said in a statement. “Our automotive sector is thriving, with the world’s most popular electric car already made in the UK and we are forging ahead to deploy new engine technology to make low-carbon vehicles mainstream, and leading the way in driverless car technology.”
The Plug-In Van grant will be available for vans weighing between 3.5 and 12 tonnes, alongside existing grants for smaller commercial EVs.
The government said the extension will be “reviewed” once 5,000 grants have been processed, or in March 2018, whichever is earlier.
The government is under increasing pressure to clean up the air in the UK’s towns and cities. Last week the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was back in court with ClientEarth as part of the environmental law firm’s long-running legal battle over the legality of the government’s plan to improve air quality.
Meanwhile, pressure is growing from the government’s own backbenchers. Official statistics obtained by Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish revealed last week that 40 per cent of UK local authorities breached legal limits on air quality last year.
The government figures show 169 out of 418 local authorities were in breach of annual nitrogen dioxide limits in 2015. Nitrogen dioxide pollution is linked to lung disease and cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
“These are shocking statistics,” Parish said in a statement. “When we think of areas breaking air quality laws, we usually think of a handful of areas in our busiest towns and cities. These figures show just how widespread the problem is across the UK. It requires a comprehensive solution – urgently.”