A Labour UK government would seek to “democratise” electric vehicles via 2.5 million interest free loans that would be targeted to trial vehicle-to-grid technology to smooth out electricity grid peak and troughs.
The higher price of electric vehicles means that, for many, making the switch to zero or low carbon transport is out of the question, but the new proposal from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell aims to help change this.
Under the plan, interest-free loans of up to £33,000 ($A60,800) would be made accessible to the UK’s low income and rural households as well as to independent contractors and small-to-medium businesses.
By covering the £1,500 ($A2,763) interest on the loan, UK drivers could save £5,000 ($A9,210) over the life of the loan – but there’s an electrifying catch.
To access a loan to buy an EV, drivers would have to participate in a vehicle-to-grid trial to further the UK’s transition to renewable energy.
Vehicle-to-grid technology allows an electric vehicle’s battery to both be charged off the grid, and also return excess energy to it.
The technology, which is made possible via smart chargers (such as that to be trialled with New Zealand’s Wellington Electricity by Australia’s Greensync), can then be used to help smooth out the grid during times of peak demand and supply.
McDonnell says that the plan will not only make electric vehicles more accessible to drivers on lower incomes, but it has the potential to help create new jobs as well.
“This will stimulate the automotive industry, it will sustain jobs in the conversion from fossil fuels to electric but actually it will create new jobs as well,” he said.
“So this is beneficial in terms of the climate, it is beneficial for those people who want to convert their carbon-fuel powered car into an electric vehicle that is sustainable.
“At same time it will help support the automotive industry and create jobs. Those jobs are in areas where we have had real issues, particularly with Brexit.”
The announcement of the plan was made by McDonnell on UK’s Today programme a day after a global climate strike by millions of children, parents and other supporters inspired by Swedish teenage climate activist Great Thunberg.
In the UK, which may be looking down the barrel of an early election should current PM and conservative Boris Johnson not deliver on a satisfactory Brexit solution, more than 100,000 people were reported to have participated in the global strike.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.