A £20m project will see low-emission vans rolled out to a selection of local councils, including Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow and Newcastle. Leading car manufacturers such as Ford, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover have been shortlisted to provide electric and low-carbon vans to public sector organisations, including the Royal Mail and HM Revenue and Customs.
Another scheme, this one costing £10m, will see 100 electric vehicles trialled by families across the country in an effort to convince drivers of the benefits of green cars. Motor manufacturers are being invited to bid for the opportunity to take part in the project, with electric car brands such as TH!NK and Daimler-owned Smart likely to be interested. Once approved, brands would be allowed to use the funding for their own marketing campaigns.
A Citroen spokesman said the brand was 'very pleased' to be invited to tender for the electric van programme, and hopes to be given the go-ahead to participate in the scheme early next year. But former Toyota marketer Mike Moran, now managing director of marketing consultancy The Automotive Partnership, is not sure of the marketing value of being associated with the programme.
'The problem is that electric cars aren't the future. They are less environmentally friendly than they may seem and come with their own sustainability issues,' claims Moran. 'Doing something is better than doing nothing, but some of the manufacturers will be much further along in the eco-car journey and will prefer to focus on their own projects.'
Blake Ludwig, managing director at environmental pressure group Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, is supportive of the news but feels the Department for Transport has been forced to act. 'Because the car industry hasn't accepted its responsibility the Government as ever has to step in. We need to see the car industry pull up its socks and create electric cars that people want to buy,' he says.