Sales of electric cars and commercial vehicles have hit record levels – the same week as a £1bn research centre in Warwick opened.
The House of Commons Transport Committee held its ‘Motoring of the Future’ evidence session this week, where chair Louise Ellman was told by Newcastle University’s professor of intelligent transport, Phil Blythe, that more electric vehicles were sold worldwide in the last quarter than in the previous five years.
Blythe, who works in the university’s School of Civil Engineering, added that Nissan had seen a 450% increase in sales of its LEAF (Leading, Environmentally-friendly, Affordable, Family car) in September 2014 compared to September 2013.
Nissan sold 2,589 LEAFs in October, bringing the year-to-date total to 24,411, which already exceeds the 2013 total of 22,610.
The news emerged the same week as Business Secretary Vince Cable opened the £1bn Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) at Warwick University.
The Government and automotive industry are investing £500M each over the next 10 years into the APC, which will research, develop and commercialise low carbon vehicle technologies.
Projects that have already received funding from the APC include construction equipment manufactured by JCB.
Cable also opened Jaguar Land Rover’s Education Business Partnership Centre in nearby Gaydon. The event was designed to increase engagement with young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2014.
The UK automotive sector turns over more than £60bn a year, and manufactured almost 1.6 million cars and commercial vehicles last year. The highest annual output of the sector was 2.1 million units in 1972, and the Financial Times forecasts production will pass this peak in 2017.