Government plan aims to boost green auto sector

Millions are to invested in promoting use of electric vehicles in the UK

A total of £20 million is being provided to a number of UK councils to buy and run electric vans.

And £10m will fund up to 100 new electric cars which will be trialled by families around the UK.

The sums are part of a £100m programme over five years to encourage greener motoring in a move that could create thousands of new jobs.

Local authorities in Liverpool, Newcastle and Gateshead, Coventry, Leeds and Glasgow have been selected to participate in the first phase of the electric van programme.

Among the companies shortlisted to bid to supply the vans are Ford, Land Rover and Nissan.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "Electric cars and other low carbon vehicles, like plug-in hybrids, cut fuel costs and reduce harmful emissions. If we can inspire more people to use them, it will help us to make a positive impact on climate change.

"Alongside this, their research and manufacture is an emerging industry with the potential to create new jobs and safeguard existing employment in the UK.

"Therefore exploring how to ensure they are a practical and affordable everyday option makes sense all round. That is what the cross Government package of measures announced today will do."

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "In the recent manufacturing strategy we made clear our determination to support the next generation of low carbon cars and today we are delivering on our promises. Work will continue next year when we produce our low carbon industrial strategy."

Greenpeace senior transport campaigner Anita Goldsmith said: "If ministers get this right then Britain's ailing car industry could become a trailblazer in this emerging technology, creating thousands of green-collar jobs and exporting zero-emission cars to developing countries around the world."

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