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Want $7K for an Electric Car? Be a Brit in 2011

It’s no secret that the UK government wants its roads to one day serve a fleet of clean plug-in vehicles. Earlier this month we wrote about Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s pledge to launch up to three electric car pilot projects within a year, eventually building out a national network of roadside charge points and making the country a “world leader” in production of electric and hybrid cars.

Today, UK officials detailed part of a broad £250 million (about $373 million) plan to promote “ultra low-carbon transportation” over the next five years, pledging to offer up to £7,000 (about $7,450) for car buyers to put towards plug-in vehicles starting in 2011. Another £20 million ($30 million) is slated for investment in developing a charging infrastructure in cities throughout Britain.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the planned subsidies and investment today at the Knockhill Racing Circuit, where they were scheduled to drive an electric Mini E — a model BMW plans to lease in prototype to 500 U.S. drivers early next year (pictured). By 2011, the UK Department for Transport said it expects “mass introduction” of plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars.

Will mass availability of cars like the Opel Ampera (the European version of GM’s Chevy Volt), Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma and other models slated to hit EU showrooms in the next few years translate to mass market adoption? It’s too early too tell. Factors like the price of fuel, the economy and successful deployment of all that planned infrastructure could help or hurt PM Brown’s goal. But an extra £7,000 to nudge buyers toward electric can’t hurt.

Photo courtesy Mini

3 Responses to “Want $7K for an Electric Car? Be a Brit in 2011”

  1. It’s about time the goverments in all countries helped
    in some way to get electric cars developed before the
    oil runs out,I know the big oil companies will try to put every obstacle in the way to prevent the development of these vehicles as they did in the USA
    with the EV1 the people were not allowed to buy the cars instead GM took the cars of the people that they were leased to and crushed them,lets hope they
    do’nt get off with this sort of behavoir again with the
    new batteries now available the range of the cars should be greatly increased and charging time decreased so let get away from the combustion engine which was invented 100years ago and stopped
    any further development of electric vehicles.

  2. It’s nice, but… is £5k enough to even meet the price difference between an early mass-market electric or hybrid car and the petrol or diesel equivalent? I’d guess not.
    And £20m to develop a charging infrastructure? Not terribly much when Better Place is investing three or four times that amount for initial deployment in Denmark, a country with a tenth the population.
    And, of course, these ‘ultra-low carbon vehicles’ are only as low-carbon as their electricity generation.