Energy secretary Chris Huhne says the proposed 80mph motorway speed limit could be limited to EVs

The proposed motorway speed limit increase to 80mph should only apply to electric vehicles, according to energy secretary Chris Huhne.

Autocar recently reported on the announcement of a Department for Transport consultation that could result in a 10mph speed limit increase on the motorways of England and Wales. The change could go hand-in-hand with the introduction of more 20mph zones in built-up areas.

Since the consultation was announced, opponents to the speed limit change have argued that a speed limit increase would lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, and that the proposal flies in the face of the government’s green commitments.

However, Huhne, who was initially critical of the 80mph proposal, has revealed that the new limit could be restricted to low-emissions vehicles such as electric cars.

Speaking on The Politics Show on the BBC on Sunday, Huhne said: “We’re consulting on this and going through all the processes of looking at what the costs and benefits are. We are lower than many other countries at the moment, including some [countries] with very good green reputations.

“You could foresee a situation where it [the 80mph limit] would apply to electric vehicles, in which case there would be absolutely no extra carbon emissions.”

Huhne did not go into details about how such a split speed limit would be policed.

Under the 80mph scheme, some stretches of motorway would be likely to retain a 70mph limit because of their engineering and environment. At the same time, the consultation will look at the case related to increasing the speed limit on other high standard, near-motorway dual carriageways.

The government plans to launch a full public consultation on the 80mph issue later this year with a view to implementing any change in early 2013.

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