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Brits charge ahead with national EV network

Off the boat: The UK’s first batch of Mitsubishi i-MiEV EVs has arrived.

UK invests $54m into EV network as first shipment of Mitsubishi i-MiEV cars arrive

23 Nov 2009

THE British government will invest £30 million ($A54 million) into electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure at select locations across the UK as it prepares for the onslaught of mass-produced EVs that began last week with the first Mitsubishi i-MiEV shipment.

While Nissan took aim at the 2012 London Olympics organising committee for failing to include a large number of EVs on the games fleet – criticism that came after its bid lost out to BMW, which will have fewer EVs at the games than Nissan-Renault would have supplied – a small batch of 25 i-MiEVs docked in Bristol ahead of a West Midlands-based government trial starting next month.

The trial is a 12-month project run through the British government’s ultra-low carbon vehicle demonstrator program, and a precursor to European production that begins in October 2010 across continental Europe – under the i-MiEV label, but also as the rebadged Peugeot i0n and Citroen C-Zero.

Australia will get its first batch of i-MiEVs for government and other specialist operators in the first quarter of 2010, with general public sales expected from around June.

Allocations will be drawn from the Japanese production schedule, which has seen the 1400 units Mitsubishi set down for 2009 all sold well before December, and more than 900 orders already placed for the current 2010 build allocation.

While representatives from the London Olympics were quoted in the British press last week as doubting the capital would have a suitable EV infrastructure to cope with a large number of EVs in 2012, the British government moved to accelerate the establishment of charging points for EVs and plug-in hybrids under a new ‘Plugged-In Places’ initiative.

Cities and businesses are being encouraged to bid for a slice of the £30 million to help fund the installation of charging points on streets, car parks and in commercial, retail and leisure facilities.

Between three and six cities and regions across the UK will be designated as EV hubs, with their experiences providing the basis for a national charging infrastructure.

21 center imageLeft: i-MiEV recharging and Nissan Leaf EV (bottom).

“The UK can be a world leader in electric and low-carbon cars which is why the government has already committed around £400 million ($A720m) of support to encourage development and uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles,” said British transport secretary Andrew Adonis.

“Our aim is for electric and low-carbon cars to be an everyday feature of life on UK’s roads in less than five years. There is still a lot of work to be done, however Plugged-In Places is one very significant step putting us firmly on the path to a low-carbon future.”

Business minister Pat McFadden added that the government wanted Britain to become a “global centre for low-carbon transport development, manufacturing and delivery”.

“The move to lower-carbon forms of transport is a turning point for the automotive industry, opening up new opportunities for existing UK automotive companies and with the potential to create new jobs and new industries, for example around the charging infrastructure,” he said.

The latest program is in addition to seven EV infrastructure schemes, two in London, which will benefit from £500,000 ($A900,550) of funding through the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Grant Programme that will include the creation of 72 electric charging points in areas across England.

More than half of Nissan-Renault’s 2012 Olympics games fleet were to have been Leaf EVs, and a successful bid would have seen a significant additional investment in EV infrastructure in London, a Nissan spokesman told UK magazine Autocar last week.

However, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the Paralympic Games said it was concerned that a suitable network of charging points would be available by mid-2012.

Nissan told Autocar: “As part of our proposition, more than half of the vehicles we were going to supply would have been Leafs. Through LOCOG’s decision, London has missed out on a significant opportunity to build confidence in electric vehicles in the UK.

“We have the vehicle and we had the chance to do something with it in the UK.”

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