The government’s new package of more £2 billion in loans for the UK auto industry makes low-carbon initiatives a front-and-center priority.
Included in the proposal are loans of up to £1.3 billion European Investment Bank (EIB) guarantees for investment in lower-carbon initiatives and additional loans of up to £1 billion for lower-carbon initiatives for non-EIB backed projects.
“Britain needs an economy with less financial engineering and more real engineering,” said Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. “The car industry can and should be a vibrant part of that future.”
He added, “The steps we are taking today will help companies speed their way to becoming greener, more innovative and more productive.”
Loans under the plan will be made available to UK auto-makers seeking support for projects of £5 million or more, as well as to automotive parts suppliers that earn £25 million or more annually. Officials stipulate that any projects obtaining loans must provide for a green economic recovery in the UK.
No word yet on when those loans will actually become available, however, as the package must first win approval from the European Commission.
Very interesting agree with the above
In my opinion 2 billion pound in such a car industry as UK’s will not make big different in carbon dioxide emissions.
They already do. In Europe.Take a Ford Focus for exmpale: the European version has a much sportier suspension, with IRS and is known for good handling.The N.American version? Corners like a cow. But that’s because the roads in N. America have much fewer corners. So the cars made for that market are catered to the buying public and to the driving environment.
There has been much emphasis on supporting our car industry in these difficult times and also an emphasis on making cars greener.
Whilst I very much hope that new technologies will mature to the point that their widespread deployment becomes practical I believe that there is a case for doing something now with the technologies that are already to hand.
May I ask you to briefly research the differences between the German Government and ours towards using LPG as a road fuel. I think that you will quickly discover that they are completely divergent. This begs the question whose approach is right?
There are currently huge stockpiles of unsold cars all across Britain – is it madness to suggest that our cars workers could be employed to make these cars greener rather than doing nothing or making yet more cars without a market?
The Case for Autogas: Britain 2009
The car industry has seen a dramatic slump in cars sales due to the recession which has led to car factory shutdowns, large scale redundancies and airfields filling up with unsold cars. The Government has announced that it will pursue policies to stimulate the market with augmented research funds for green technology and loan facilities. Unfortuantely, people are still very nervous about buying large ticket items such as vehicles and further stimulus is required.
The Government should adopt the policy of Germany and announce a long term commitment to LPG/Autogas which would remove the current uncertainty surrounding this fuel and stimulate the market. They should then provide grants to manufacturers to modify unsold petrol vehicles. The cost of the provision of grants would be returned to the treasury in the form of VAT when these currently unsellable cars are made more attractive to customers through their reduced fuel costs and consequently sold, thereby providing an immediate green stimulus to the car industry.
The Environmental Case
• Air Quality: LPG is one of the cleanest burning fuels known, a reason frequently cited by countries rapidly adopting it (see below). A vehicle running on LPG produces 20 times less NOx than its equivalent diesel and 120 times fewer fine particles. (Shell).
• Reducing Gobal Warming: Vehicles converted to LPG have lower CO2 emissions both from tailpipe and from upstream emissions related to the production of the fuel. This is normally estimated at around 20% (IEA 18-29%, 1998).
Availability: LPG is a by product of oil extraction and refining operations as well as being extracted from natural gas imports prior to addition into the grid. Consequently, the UK is Europe’s largest producer with a consistent long term forecast in excess of six million tonnes (or enough for over six million vehicles). This valuable resource should never be simply flared off and can provide for enhanced fuel security.
Infrastructure: The UK oil companies have developed a well established refuelling infrastructure across the UK, unique amongst alternative fuels, meaning that LPG is the only readily available alternative fuel.
Suitability: Most petrol vehicles can be modified by having a second fuel system added to enable them to run on either petrol or LPG. Vehicles designed specifically to use LPG gain further efficiency and emissions gains.
Adoption in other Countries: Germany has announced a long term plan and is on target for a million LPG vehicles by 2015. In December 2008 Prime Minister Rudd doubled grants available in Australia. Most European countries have far greater numbers of LPG vehicles (over five million across Europe). Many other countries promote the use of LPG in an effort to curb global warming and to enhance air quality.
Other Alternative Fuels: It must be immediately recognised that there is no silver bullet replacement for petrol and diesel. Consequently further research into sustainable biofuels and new technology for electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles is needed as a matter of priority. However, all of these potential solutions have a single unifying feature; they are not ready for 2009. Indeed it is impossible for these technologies to be deployed quickly enough to have a meaningful impact to reduce the effects of the recession on the car industry. See Investigation into the Scope for the Transport Sector to Switch to Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles conducted by Arup Cenex for BERR & DFT, October 2008). Conclusion: Reasearch rather than widespread deployment in 2009. This is likely to be a new vehicle rather than a retrofit to existing vehicle solution – it is not relevant to the thousands of new and unsold vehicles in storage across the country.
Conclusion: It is highly desirable to dramatically increase the number of LPG vehicles in the UK for reasons explained above in line with the rest of Europe. This is a fully developed technology that can be deployed in 2009.
Government Response Required. The introduction and meaningful deployment of LPG/Autogas has only occurred in countries whose governments have a long term, consistent and clearly positive position on the fuel. This is necessary to provide consumers, whether individuals or fleets, with the confidence to make the required investment decisions to provide a quantifiable market and allow companies involved in this technology to function. Generally speaking the larger the company the longer the timeline of certaintly required. In short we should aim for the success of Germany by adopting their policy.
A modest investment, tiny in comparison to the figures the Government is citing to support the general motor industry would pay large, easy demonstrable and immediate dividends.
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