The Liberal Democrats have pledged £100m to any car manufacturer that makes a best-selling low-emission vehicle as part of the party’s goal to ban diesel and petrol-powered cars by 2040.
The taxpayer-funded prize will be awarded to a company which creates an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) to break into the top five selling cars in the UK, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said.
To classify as a ULEV a car should have carbon dioxide emissions of below 75g/km, far cleaner than the current 128.3g/km average for new cars. Around 60,000 would have to be sold to make it one the top five best selling cars in the UK.
Mr Clegg said during a trip to racing car wheel manufacturer Dymag in Chippenham, Wiltshire that ULEVs are not just a way to re-balance the economy, but also a way of tackling dangerous levels of air pollution that reduce average life expectancy by up to eight months.
“Our Liberal Democrat £100m prize fund will spark a low-emission car revolution in Britain and help to build a stronger and greener economy for years to come,” he added.
A party source told the Press Association the prize would “turbocharge the technology”, which is already being developed by manufactures, and would serve as an incentive to bring back models to market that would be affordable enough to become a best-seller.
The party suggested that it expected a successful model to cost no more than £15,000 in order to keep running costs down for consumers.
There are more than 20 models of ULEVs currently on the UK market and according to the government every major car company will be selling vehicles with electric power by the end of 2015. ULEVs are a major area of growth for the UK automotive sector, which is worth over £11bn to the economy.
Nick Clegg’s party first unveiled proposals to ban petrol and diesel cars from UK roads in 2013. The controversial measures would mean that millions of cars being forbidden, while only electric vehicles and ultra-efficient hybrid cars would be allowed.
There is also an ongoing national campaign Go Ultra Low for ULEVs, developed in a jointly funded partnership between industry and government.