Motorists will be offered incentives of up to £5000 to buy electric cars from 2011, under new government proposals announced today.
The £250 million scheme will also result in key UK cities becoming testing grounds for how drivers will use and charge their new vehicles. In order to achieve this, the government will provide 200 electric cars for members of the public to try out.
The proposals, which were outlined by transport secretary Geoff Hoon and business secretary Lord Mandelson, will give buyers of cars that run entirely or almost entirely on electricity £2000-£5000.
Following the announcement, both ministers drove the Mini E electric car, and were shown around it by Ian Robertson, sales and marketing director of BMW.
Mini has already confirmed it will trial the Mini E in Germany and the US this year, and is planning to extend this with a one-year trial of 40 Mini E vehicles in the UK.
The Department for Transport says that widespread adoption of electric vehicles capable of a range of 50km (31 miles) or more would cut road transport carbon emissions in half.
Hoon said, "What we've got to get people used to is the idea that electric cars will become quite normal, quite usual.
"It won't be exceptional to own an electric vehicle and, without being unkind to existing electric vehicles, they won't be slightly odd; they will be cars that conform to appropriate safety standards and we can use on an everyday basis."