Council in the driving seat to cut emissions

By on 15/04/2011 in News

Date: Monday April 18
Time: 4pm
Location: Lifford House on Fordhouse Lane, Stirchley

Birmingham's use of ultra-low carbon vehicles is gathering speed with the city council set to pick up the keys to a pair of electric cars for use by staff.

The smart fortwo electric drive cars have been supplied to the council through the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Demonstrators (CABLED) consortium, which is co-ordinating the UK's largest public trial of low carbon vehicle,  to learn more about the best ways that low carbon vehicles can be turned into a mass market form of transport.

Diesel and petrol cars will be taken out of the council's existing fleet to make way for the new vehicles - being used by staff for site visits and meetings for which public transport is unavailable or inefficient in terms of time and cost.

Sandy Taylor, Head of Climate Change and Sustainability at Birmingham City Council, said: “We have previously announced our intention to adopt the use of electric and other low carbon vehicles in our Birmingham Declaration on Climate Change.

“With fossil fuel prices generally on an upward curve, it makes sense economically as well as environmentally for us to do this - each full charge has a range of 84 miles at a cost of less than £2.

“There is also the third benefit of our support helping to develop an emerging sector of business. Birmingham has a great chance to be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution if we embrace such technology when it is in its formative years as a sector of the market.”

Neil Butcher, Project Leader of the CABLED consortium on behalf of lead partners Arup, said: “Low carbon vehicles can make a huge impact on company fleets. The CABLED trial and readily available data on average car journeys already proves that electric vehicles are more than capable of making the majority of journeys undertaken in the UK.

“Arup has in fact calculated that if all UK car journeys of less than 50 miles were made by electric rather than conventional vehicles, the savings in CO2 on a well to wheel basis would equate to taking 7.5 million cars off the roads.”

As part of the CABLED project, energy company E.ON has installed a network of public charging points in Birmingham and Coventry city centres as well as workplace charging points at Birmingham City Council's Lifford House offices in Stirchley. They will be complemented by additional points at Lancaster Circus to help the project develop further. Further points will be installed in the city over the next two years with approved funding from the “Plugged in Places” programme announced in December 2010.

The two new vehicles are the final smart electric drives being delivered into the national programme. They represent the 104th and 105th cars delivered nationally by smart, being the 44th and 45th cars to be delivered in the Midlands regional project.

CABLED is the largest of eight public trials taking place in the UK as part of The Technology Strategy Board's £25m Ultra Low Carbon demonstrator programme, with the West Midlands consortium contributing 110 of almost 350 vehicles trialled on the UKs roads.


Notes to editors

About the CABLED consortium

The West Midlands consortium, called CABLED – short for Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators - is made up of 12 organisations, led by Arup, a company with experience that crosses all areas that touch this project, from vehicle design to planning to infrastructure and energy. The consortium will develop and demonstrate more than 100 road-worthy vehicles to be trialled in the two cities over 12 months. Part funding for the project has been approved from the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.

Each of the five vehicle manufacturers in the consortium - Jaguar/Land Rover, Mitsubishi/Colt, Mercedes Benz/Smart, Tata Motors and Microcab Industries - are contributing their own vehicles towards the low carbon scheme, which includes a mix of fully electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.

Three of the Midland's leading universities play a major role in the scheme with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its upgraded hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station has been installed at Coventry University.

The Technology Board's Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Competition
As part of the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, £25 million has been allocated to eight highly innovative, industry-led collaborative research projects in the field of ultra low carbon vehicle development and demonstration. The competition, which culminated in June 2009 with the announcement of successful applicants, focused on encouraging the development of industry-led consortia that could deliver in bringing significant numbers of demonstrator vehicles onto roads quickly. The competition winners are delivering over 340 new innovative cars on the road in eight locations around the UK over an 18 month period.

About The Technology Strategy Board's contribution

The government-backed Technology Strategy Board is working with business to speed up the development of low carbon vehicles, towards the point where they become a practical reality and UK business can benefit from the future commercial opportunities.

The winning projects have received a total of £25 million as part of an ongoing commitment to invest jointly with the industry to speed up the introduction of low carbon vehicles. This will support the investment already made by the consortia themselves and is the most significant step to date in the UK of a co-ordinated move towards low carbon transport.

To meet the UK's commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, the carbon output of transport – currently a quarter of all UK emissions – has to be significantly reduced. The vehicles that we drive need to be part of the solution.

The journey towards low carbon transport will not be easy but the demonstrator programme is a major step in the right direction. With over 340 cars being trialled in several regions across the UK, and with the involvement of large and small manufacturers, RDAs, local authorities, universities and infrastructure companies, it is the biggest project of its kind to date.

About the Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit .

Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council is a lead partner in the CABLED project. The City Council has supported E.ON's installation of 18 electric vehicle charging points in the city centre. The City Council has also committed through the “Birmingham Declaration” to all its vehicle purchases being electric or LPG by 2015. It is completing a major “green fleet” review of its vehicles which will lead to new electric vehicle procurements in the next two years. The promotion of electric vehicles is a key priority for Birmingham in its Climate Change Action Plan and its aim to cut the city's overall carbon emissions by 60% by 2026. More information can be found at

Birmingham City Council published the Birmingham Declaration on climate change in December 2009.
The declaration, approved by councillors, underlines the city's ambition to be at the forefront of the effort nationally and internationally to tackle issues around sustainability.
Underpinning the declaration is a plan to use the council's purchasing power and influence as a vehicle to stimulate green initiatives which will provide significant employment opportunities for Birmingham's people and reduce energy bills for citizens and businesses alike.

The declaration states that by 2015:

  • All vehicles bought by the council should be electrically powered or run on liquefied petroleum gas
  • There will be at least 500 electric cars running on the streets of the city as we will develop the electric charging infrastructure
  • 50 per cent of electricity used by the council should be generated from renewable sources
  • The city council's energy consumption will be reduced by 25 per cent
  • Ten per cent of Birmingham homes will be linked to district heating systems
  • Ten per cent of Birmingham homes will have retrofit insulation
  • There will be at least ten “low carbon communities” similar to the successful example of Summerfield Eco-neighbourhood
  • It is envisaged that the declaration will help Birmingham meet its ambitious target of reducing CO2 levels in the city by 60 per cent by 2026 when compared to 1990 levels.

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501 or Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621.

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