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110 electric cars begin tests in the West Midlands

The UK's largest electric car trial has begun in the West Midlands.

The government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has supplied £15 million to the project as part of its plans for electric cars to become commercially viable in the UK.

The West Midlands' trial taking place in Coventry and Birmingham is the largest of eight similar trials TSB is backing, with 110 electric cars being trialled in the area. Nationally, 340 cars will be tested. TSB ran its 'Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator' competition to find suitable areas to trial electric cars.

Iain Gray, TSB's chief executive, said: “We created the Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition to act as a catalyst for industry, the public sector and academia to collaborate to provide low emission vehicles and solutions to powering them.

“The journey towards low carbon transport will not be easy, but the demonstrator programme is the biggest project of its kind to date and is a major step in the right direction.”

The West Midlands' trial brings together local organisations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors under the banner 'Cabled' (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators).

Neil Butcher, Cabled's project leader, said: “Less than one per cent of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London. We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.

“[This] launch is a landmark occasion for the UK automotive industry, and this project will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment – energy generation, battery charging and driver behaviour. This is an important first step on our roads to a low-carbon future.”

Cars due to be taking part in the 12 month West Midlands' trial throughout 2010 include 40 Smart EDs, 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, 25 Tata Indicas, 10 Microcab hydrogen cars, 5 Land Rover Range_es and 5 LTI electric taxis.

Aston University will be analysing and reporting its conclusions from the data generated by the vehicles.

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