ELECTRIC CARS will be allowed to use bus lanes and park for free under plans by Nick Clegg to encourage more drivers to buy them, reports The Times.
The deputy prime minister has announced that cities will be invited to bid for a share of a £35 million fund to incentivise uptake of electric cars.
The AA condemned the plan, saying there was a risk that other drivers would be fined by following them into bus lanes. Cyclists could also be endangered because they might not hear electric cars approaching them in the lanes, it said.
Edmund King, the AA president, said: “Some electric cars look like ordinary cars and other drivers will follow the leader, thinking the bus lane restrictions do not apply at that time.”
The Norwegian capital of Oslo permits electric cars to use bus lanes but there have been calls for the concession to be removed because the popularity of the low-emission vehicles is causing delays to buses.
Mr Clegg has announced that drivers will be able to claim £5,000 grants towards the cost of an electric car for an additional two years. He has said that £500 million will be invested between 2015-2020 to promote construction of electric vehicles and help drivers “feel confident” buying them.
The grants will be available until at least 2017 while 500 “rapid chargepoints”, capable of recharging cars in 20 minutes, will be installed by March 2015.
The grant scheme is being extended partly because uptake has been much slower than expected when it was launched in January 2011. By the end of last month, only 8,700 grants had been claimed, though the monthly total is now rising rapidly.
Mr Clegg has said that at least 50,000 drivers will receive grants of up to £5,000 each. When this number is reached the subsidy will be reviewed. The government will invest £100 million in research and development to help Britain become “a world leader in the development, design and manufacture of green vehicles”.