The plan is designed to pave the way for increased research and development of green technology in the automotive field. It also aims to grow market demand for less polluting vehicles and to help ensure that Europe is at the forefront of low carbon technology.
Ministers have provided support for a range of technological approaches, from more efficient combustion engines through hybrids to all-electric vehicles. Bio and gaseous fuels also merit consideration but for many it is electric vehicles (EVs) that offer the most workable and sustainable long-term solution.
The EU blueprint therefore includes a series of actions targeting further expansion of supply and demand in the all-electric sector. These include particular emphasis on taking necessary steps towards ensuring a common, pan-European electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
A target date of mid-2011 is given for standardisation bodies to come to agreement on a harmonised solution, in order to ensure that the same electric vehicles can be used without difficulty in any part of the EU.
In the UK, the Department for Transport is already backing various incentive schemes, designed to pump-prime active use of electric vehicles in the UK. Current projects include an Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme, managed through the Technology Strategy Board and the Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme, managed by Cenex. Both programmes will encourage and assist public authorities and private sector partners in adding all-electric vehicles to their fleets.
Electric vehicle manufacturers also stand to benefit. One example is Allied Electric. A supply partner in both projects, the Glasgow-based specialist vehicle manufacturer is already ramping up EV production capacity to meet growing demand.
Partnering with the PSA Peugeot-Citroen group, Allied Electric also is also continuing to extend its range of vehicles and can now offer all-electric versions of the full Peugeot light commercial vehicle range, from Bipper and Partner through to Expert and Boxer. All their EV models are available as cargo vans or as passenger cars.