100,000 Electric Cars Promised For London's Streets

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 109 months ago
100,000 Electric Cars Promised For London's Streets

Image courtesy of Jamie McK from the Londonist Flickr pool
Boris wants to make London "the electric car capital of Europe". He's announced plans to get 100,000 electric cars on our streets, including 1,000 GLA vehicles by 2015 as well as bringing charging points to 25,000 public places and a fifth of all new parking spots.

Which is, of course, yay! But - there's always a but, isn't there? - he's only supplying a third of the £60m needed to get this electric revolution started. There is a £250m government fund available to incentivise us to buy low carbon vehicles and the Mayor wants to get a big bite of this, but it's not guaranteed (and if the Labour vs Boris spat continues, who knows if he'll get his cash, especially since the government want to spend some of it on giving people £2k subsidies to buy electric cars). The rest is expected to come from the private sector - but with the economy the way it is, can we really see developers splashing out on charging points when they can barely fund the actual construction costs?

The second but - we're butting up against buts today - are the green claims themselves. Electric cars aren't the big air polluters that fossil fuelled cars are but they're still only as green as the electricity going into them. As the London Array looks for a bailout, BP Solar slashes jobs (yet promises to somehow increase capacity) and the G20 summit barely giving low carbon and renewable energy a mention, this has the potential to be so much greenwash.

Last Updated 09 April 2009


It would be really good if this idea could get off the ground. Like it or not, the car is not going to be eradicated from London any time soon, so moving towards these greener cars is definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm not really sure that saying that these cars are "only as green as the electricity going into them" is anything other than a red herring. You could say the same thing about the tube, or in fact *anything* that is powered off the national grid (including, for the sake of argument, the equipment that we are using to author, comment on, or read this article). Probably the only *real* green forms of transport in London are walking and cycling (although I'm sure someone would point out the damaging environmental effects of increased methane emissions from the large numbers of cows needed to create all of the extra burgers used to fuel all of our tired muscles if everyone in London started walking and cycling everywhere).

There *are* probably even greener ways of powering cars around the capital (such as hydrogen fuel cells, maybe?), but I don't think they'll be feasible for this sort of initiative for a while.

As for the funding issue - the government needs to get over its resentment at London for having the audacity to vote in a mayor who wears the wrong colour Y-fronts. Then again, it would be just like this government to cut off its nose (i.e. London) to spite its face.


Yikes. I don't think 100,000 of any vehicle is a good thing for central London's streets, which are for the most part full up. They should focus not on encouraging more personal electric cars, but on shifting taxis, vans, buses and car club vehicles to green power.

Now in the outer zones electric vehicles could be just the thing. Best thing would be to build a effective infrastructure, like these people http://www.betterplace.com/ are pushing for.

Polution wise, yes, EVs arn't going to stop global warming imediatly, but they will take the diesel particuates, sulphar, NOx and other nasties out of the air in town (They will be in Didcot instead, but I don't think I mind particularly).

Hydrogen is a missadventure - you have to make it, with electricity, so why not just use electricity anyway? Batteries are getting good enough for it.

Boris has a budget and he has tax raising powers. £40m isn't a lot of money from his pot if he really wants to do this.

Chevy Wheel Hub Assembly

There is a £250m government fund available to incentivise us to buy low
carbon vehicles and the Mayor wants to get a big bite of this, but it’s
not guaranteed.