Two of the UK's top politicians – Prime Minister Gordon Brown and London Mayor Boris Johnson – now have access to electric cars, at least for a little while. For the PM, a Mini E will be added to the Downing Street car pool for two months and will be made available to ministers for official business. Johnson's new electric car is an i-MiEV, which he is using in Denmark during COP 15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009. While he's only using the car for a short while, he believes that EVs are the future. By 2015, every Londoner will be less than a mile away from an electric car charge point, he said, because there will be 22,500 recharge locations in the city then.

It's not just politicians who are getting into the EV game. Over the weekend, 40 British drivers got their keys to Mini 3 units. Thus far, the UK has spent about £400 million to support the low carbon transport industry. Part of that money will go to Mini E drivers so their monthly rental fee for the cars is £330 instead of £550.

[Source: Mini, Mitsubishi]

PRESS RELEASES:

PRIME MINISTER WELCOMES MINISTERIAL MINI E

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, welcomed an all-electric, zero emissions MINI E to the Government car pool today in Downing Street. The MINI E will be tested by ministers wanting to try a fully-fledged electric car in an urban environment on their official business around London.

The MINI E was presented to the government car pool by Tim Abbott, Managing Director of BMW Group (UK) Ltd, following the handover of 40 identical cars to pioneering drivers on Sunday to members of the public who will run the cars as part of an important scientific field trial. The cars will be tested for one year in total and will both help to shape the future of BMW Group electric vehicle development and to inform the wider world about the economic, behavioural and practical issues of living with an electric vehicle.

The Prime Minister was joined by Cabinet colleagues, including the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of electric vehicle development through the Government's Technology Strategy Board.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "I congratulate BMW and MINI for their ground-breaking electric MINI project and I welcome the extensive user field trial that has now begun."

The Prime Minister added: "The low carbon transport industry will not only cut harmful emissions but has the potential to be a major source of jobs and growth. We have already committed £400 million of support to the sector, encouraging its development and take-up, and I am confident that in future years we will see thousands more electric and other low carbon cars on Britain's roads."

Lord Mandelson said: "I am delighted that the MINI E is going to be put through its paces by Government ministers for two months. The Government is keen to show that driving electric vehicles is fun. I want the UK to be a world leader in low carbon transport and cars like the UK-built MINI can help us achieve that aim."

The Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson were also able to meet one of the first MINI E test drivers, Oxford resident David Beesley, who collected his car from the MINI plant at Oxford on Sunday. "I have only had my MINI E for two days but it's really fun to drive and it feels great to be reducing my carbon footprint," he enthused.

Like the MINI E research projects in North America and Germany, the UK trial is a collaborative effort between the partners in a BMW Group UK-led consortium.

Scottish and Southern Electric will be responsible for the electricity infrastructure in the research area and is committed to supplying 'green energy' from sustainably generated sources to all drivers of the MINI E through an offsetting scheme.

Oxford Brookes University's Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will manage the collation of qualitative and quantitative research throughout the UK project. This will include analysis of driver experiences with the MINI E, as well as reviewing the technical information provided by the data-logging units fitted to every MINI E.

The consortium is strengthened by public sector organisations from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. These organisations are working to develop high economic growth projects such as this.

Additional funding is provided by the Technology Strategy Board as part of a UK-wide programme involving trials of 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles from several manufacturers. This funding enables the monthly lease for MINI pioneers to be reduced from £550 to £330.

THE MAYOR OF LONDON'S OFFICE CHOOSES i-MiEV TO SIGNAL A NEW DAWN FOR THE CAPITAL'S EV INFRASTRUCTURE AT COP15



The car chosen to exemplify a new dawn of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today was the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi Motors UK's Managing Director commented, "As one of the first mainstream manufacturers to supply a full production electric car, we were more than happy to provide an i-MiEV for use during the Summit."

Speaking at the COP15 environmental summit in Copenhagen, the Mayor of London, heralded that "A golden era of clean, green electric motoring is upon us and London is well ahead of cities around the globe in preparing the right conditions for this."

He was addressing city leaders from around the world to promote London's advanced plans to make electric cars an everyday feature of life in the capital. London is leading a coalition of major cities working to use their collective clout to create massive global electric vehicle markets through joint procurement commitments.

Announcing that every Londoner will be no more than one mile from an electric car charge point by 2015, the Mayor revealed detailed plans to deliver a comprehensive network of electric charge points in the capital, supporting the mainstream use of zero carbon-emission electric vehicles.

The charge point plan is the first milestone in the Mayor's over-arching vision to make London the electric capital of Europe. The strategy shows how by 2015 in London, 22,500 charge points will be at workplaces, with 500 on street and 2,000 in public car parks. A strategic network of publicly accessible faster charge points will be installed as part of this coverage at key locations on the road network and motorway service stations.

He went on to say that "There is an urgent need to tackle the risk of serious and irreversible climate change, yet this does not need to be about hair shirt abstinence. I want to pursue radical yet practical steps to cut energy waste. Electric vehicles are a clear example of how technology can provide the solution to the biggest challenge of our generation
."

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