LONDON, UK,  July 18, 2014 (ENS) – Over 150 plug-in vehicles will be added to British Government fleets in the first wave of a new plan to fund all government car fleets to purchase electric plug-in cars and vans, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced Thursday.

The £5 million (US$8.549 million) ultra low emission vehicle, or ULEV, readiness project is just the first step in plans to make electric cars and other plug-in vehicles commonplace in UK government fleets, said the minister, adding that the British Government is set to “lead by example.”

launch event

Baroness Kramer was joined at the launch of the plug-in car plan by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, left, and Minister of State for Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin, center. (Photo courtesy Office of the Transport Minister)

The plan is intended to allow every central government fleet to review its arrangements and consider how greener vehicles can be used.

The Government Car Service, which provides cars for ministers, will lead the way. Its review is already underway and the Car Service plans to order the first electric cars in the autumn.

Baroness Kramer was joined at the launch of the scheme by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Minister of State for Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin.

Treasury Secretary Alexander, said, “I am delighted the Government Car Service is leading the move to electric vehicles, and I will be one of the first in line to use one. This is the right thing to do, with much lower running costs and close to zero emissions, these vehicles will save the taxpayer money and be much greener.”

“We are also investing significantly in ultra-low emission vehicles which will help ensure they play an important role in the UK economy as well as the environment,” Alexander said.

Baroness Kramer said, “Government must lead by example. Today’s investment will see government switching a significant number of plug-in cars and vans into our fleets and leading the electric charge.”

The scheme will be expanded in the autumn to allow the wider public sector, including councils, police forces and the National Health Service, to introduce a further 135 plug-in vehicles to their fleets.

Chargepoints will be installed to provide infrastructure support for the new cars and vans.

Cars and vans will be recommended on a like-for-like basis and the reviews will consider the whole life cost of the vehicles to ensure that each replacement makes economic sense.

The ministers said ultra-low emission vehicles will be a major area of future growth for the UK automotive sector, which is currently worth over £11 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy.

The £5 million scheme for getting ULEVs into government fleets is in addition to the support for the Go Ultra Low campaign being delivered in partnership with vehicle manufacturers and £500 million ($US1.36 billion) announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in April 2014.

That set of measures includes:

at least £200 million to continue the Plug In Car Grant, cutting up to £5000 off the price of a new ULEV car
£100 million for research and development
£35 million cities scheme
£20 million to encourage ULEV taxis
£30 million to boost the low emission bus market
£32 million for more chargepoints

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer began her career in finance and became a vice-president of Citibank in Chicago. She and her husband then set up Infrastructure Capital Partners, a firm which advised on infrastructure projects, primarily in central and eastern Europe. She was appointed Minister of State for Transport in October 2013. She is a Liberal Democrat Peer.

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