Industry targets four million electric vehicles in five years

Ambitious bid to have one million more EVs on the road than current.

A global alliance of leading car firms and state government yesterday announced that it plans to outpace all current predictions for the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs), putting four million battery-powered cars and trucks on the world’s roads by 2015.

The pledge, which was made on the first day of the high-profile Climate Week event in New York, exceeds the group’s previous target by about one million vehicles.

Chaired by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the EV20 Alliance brings together leading auto and engineering firms, including global fleet owner TNT, Peugeot Citroën, Smith Electric Vehicles, battery manufacturer Johnson Controls, infrastructure outfit Better Place and Deutsche Bank, as well as state governments from the Basque Country, New York State, Quebec, South Australia and Victoria.

The members said they will spend the next three years brokering international fleet procurement alliances, developing national, state and municipal policy frameworks, and financing solutions in an attempt to “change the game” in the EV market.

“The rapid growth of an e-car market will cut city pollution and global greenhouse gas emissions, helping to conserve our climate and our energy resources,” said Prince Albert.

The announcement comes ahead of the launch of several electric vehicles aimed at mainstream motorists, such as Nissan’s high-profile Leaf and Mitsubishi’s new iMiev. However, with research earlier this month indicating that 3.2 million EVs would be on the roads by 2015, the EV20 Alliance’s goal will be regarded as hugely ambitious.

Jim Walker, co-founder and director of The Climate Group, said there was huge political and commercial interest in promoting EVs, which could serve to release high levels of pent-up demand. “Governments, banks and businesses around the world are grappling with the same challenge: how to harness the potential of plug-in vehicles for their citizens, workers and investors,” he said.

The announcement came as luminaries from across industry and government gathered at the UN General Assembly at the launch of the Climate Week NYC event.

Speaking at the start of the week-long conference, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who will lead the Cancun talks, urged businesses to play a more proactive role in promoting the economic benefits that will arise from low-carbon investments.

“It is my firm belief that any solution to climate change will be moot without the strong involvement of business, which ultimately creates the opportunities, the growth and jobs in all national economies,” she said, adding that corporate executives should lobby governments to adopt more ambitious climate change policies.

“Business needs to make the government representatives understand that this could be to their advantage,” she said. “Government will be bolder if they are told that they can do so by investors and businesses.”

Her comments were echoed by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who praised those businesses taking part in the Climate Week event for helping to drive climate change up the political agenda.

“Government and business everywhere need to work together in public-private partnerships to cut emissions and be on the forefront of clean energy and clean air,” he said. “Those taking part in Climate Week NYC are also taking this vital step to help unlock the critical finances, technologies and policies we need to secure new jobs and future economic growth.”

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