The UK government has launched a £25 million scheme to kick-start trials of environmentally friendly vehicles in the UK.
The scheme, which the government says is the largest of its type in the world, is designed to accelerate the introduction of electric cars to the UK, and will allow members of the public to take part in long-term trials of electric cars and vans.
Around 340 electric will be made available to qualifying members of the public in eight different locations including Oxford, London, Glasgow, Birmingham and the north-east. The tests will last a minumum of 12 months and up to three years, with each area pooling feedback.
The £25 million of government money is being matched by the companies involved, taking the project's budget to £50 million.
Joe Greenwell, Ford of Britain chairman, said: "This is the first step in a very long journey, but it will accelerate our learning about real-world ownership of electric cars."
Power companies, regional development agencies and universities will also be involved in co-ordinating the experiments, building infrastructure such as charging points and analysing the way the cars are used.
"Here's an opportunity to position the UK as a world leader in the adoption of this technology by supporting the largest ever trial of such vehicles," said Paul Drayson, the science minister.
"That encourages companies working in this field to do their research and development here. That knowledge generated by the trial then gets fed back to the follow-on systems that come through."