The government has launched a new Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) which is designed to accelerate the take-up of electrically powered vehicles.
OLEV will be made up of officials from central and local government, as well as industry representatives and key figures from government departments including business and transport.
Lord Drayson, science and innovation minister, said: “This new department will be about action and not talking. We need to make the UK a leader in ultra-low carbon vehicles and make sure we are a leader and not an importer.”
The government describes ultra low carbon vehicles as electrically powered, such as the Tesla Roadster, or plug-in hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius.
Drayson said the new office would be led by industry, not government.
“If the new department delivers, it will put the UK and the car at the centre of the low carbon future. We have already committed £140 million to the programme.”
Robin Haycock, a strategist for OLEV, said: “We need to get an infastructure in place and make it a more natural choice to choose an electric car over a standard petrol or diesel model.
“We want our companies like Lotus and Jaguar to be building these cars to make it more acceptable to buy one. At the minute, they’re not sexy enough.”
OLEV will run until 2013 with the specific remit of making sure an electric recharging infrastructure is in place and all-electric models are available to buy in showrooms.
Drayson compared the launch of the office and take up of electric vehicles to the launch of the Ford Model T.
“When Henry Ford launched the T in the US, there was no refuelling infrastructure in place. Britain choosing to adopt this technology now is a similar situaton – if the manufacturers build the cars, then we will support them and the people will come.”