I’m delighted that, today, we’ve got manufacturers here - and thank you for bringing your plug-in vans along… can’t wait to see them up close.
We’ve got people who already own low carbon vans and some who are thinking of buying them.
We may even have one or two sceptics - those yet to be persuaded of the merits of these new and exciting vehicles.
But, whatever your motive for being here this morning, I want to thank you all for making the time and taking the trouble to come along.
Now, while I have the chance, I’d also like to say a very personal thank you to Pete (Waterman), for providing the soundtrack to my youth and, of course, for letting us use this venue today.
Pete has been a solid supporter of what’s cutting edge in transport - particularly on the rail side - and it’s great that he is able to be here to lend his support today.
A motorist & pro-environment
Cars and vans are absolutely central to people’s lives.
It’s how most of us get around and for many journeys they are, and will remain, the only practical and convenient travel choice - not a luxury but an essential means of getting from A to B.
Nevertheless, climate change is a global challenge we simply have to meet head on. It cannot be ignored or side-stepped.
It is everyone’s business and anyone who is serious about tackling this challenge must also be serious about reducing the environmental impact of motor vehicles.
And that’s what marks this new grant out because, for me, it demonstrates that you can be a motorist and be pro-environment.
Good for the environment, good for business
This new grant is good for the environment.
Electric vans will produce less air pollution and less noise.
And, by helping to cut CO2 emissions, they will also help the UK meet our climate change targets.
But the plug-in van grant is good for business too.
Businesses that run electric vans can benefit from reduced refuelling costs, get exemption from the van benefit charge, and attract capital allowance concessions, not to mention the 100% discount for the congestion charge in the capital.
But best of all, it’s been estimated that a small electric van will typically cost £100 less in fuel for every thousand miles driven compared to a diesel equivalent.
If you want to see just how well plug-in vehicles can fit into fleets - and just how much commercial sense they make - I recommend a read of the Climate Group’s report on plugged in fleets.
It’s published today so, if you get the chance, pick up a copy.
Plug-In Van Grant
I am really excited about our new Plug-in Van Grant, and let me tell you why:
- it offers a 20% discount when you buy a new, eligible, ultra-low emission van…meaning up to £8000 off the purchase price.
- it is available to both private individuals and business buyers across the UK
- it runs alongside our continuing Plug-In Car Grant
- and it is designed to build on, and complement, our existing “Plugged in Places” recharging infrastructure programme
I also think this type of low emission vehicles initiative is ideally suited for vans, especially if you look at the way they’re driven and used in business:
- vans often have a predictable range
- they make frequent stops
- and many of them return to an overnight base where they can be easily recharged
You might want to talk to some of the guests here today who have already taken the plunge and purchased plug-in vans.
I would particularly like to mention British Gas’s ambitions with hundreds of electric vans scheduled to be introduced into their fleets over the next few years - a move that will significantly add to the numbers of plug-in vehicles on the road.
And I would strongly encourage those of you who haven’t yet made the switch to plug-in vehicles to seriously consider it - not only for the environmental benefits but for what it could do for your own business’s bank balance.
Working with the grain
I’m convinced that the way to deliver real change is to work with, rather than against, the grain of human nature and every-day reality.
And, by giving consumers motoring options that are reliable and affordable, as well as cleaner and greener, that’s precisely what these new grants are doing.
They also have the potential to create a virtuous circle by further stimulating investment in the mass production of ultra-low emission vehicles which, in turn, could bring down costs and further boost demand.
Supported by a growing charging infrastructure, these developments can help make plug-in cars and vans an everyday part of life for British motorists.
In essence, today is really all about setting out the path for tomorrow.
I believe these vans are going to make a real and positive difference - to communities and businesses, to how we live, drive and work.
But I don’t think you should just take my word for it.
So why don’t we finish up here, go outside and take a look at the future?
(This speech represented existing departmental policy but the words may not have been the same as those used by the minister.)