The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, welcomed an all-electric, zero emissions MINI E to the Government car pool 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.
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