David Cameron’s Cabinet could become the first in the world to swap traditional limousines for electric cars, the Standard can reveal.
Ministers are keen for Whitehall to set an example by adopting ultra-green electric vehicles in the public sector as quickly as possible.
They feel the best way to convince firms that zero-emission technology is up to the job is for ministers themselves to glide to official engagements in clean, quiet electric limos.
“We already have hybrid cars in the ministerial fleet,” said a Whitehall source. “Why shouldn’t the ministerial car fleet become one of the first test-beds for the widespread roll-out of electric cars?”
Treasury minister Danny Alexander is an electric car enthusiast who recently put up a £10 million prize for the developer of a better battery. He set aside another £5 million in the National Infrastructure Plan to fund tests of battery-powered cars and vans for the NHS and other services.
Mayor Boris Johnson is desperate to boost interest in the capital’s network of 800 charging points. They were developed at a cost of £9.3 million but three out of four went unused in 2012, dashing hopes of making London the electric capital of Europe.
But converting Whitehall could transform the image of electric cars, which many drivers see as a risk.
Starting in the spring, the trials aim to show such vehicles can withstand a working life without breaking down or running out of power at awkward times.
Getting firms and families to swap to “ultra-low emission” is key to hitting carbon reduction targets over the next two decades. There are already 20 hybrid Toyota Priuses in the Government’s car service fleet.
Mr Alexander is also pouring £10 million into schemes to test and develop driverless cars. However, No 10 said there are no plans for the Prime Minister to venture out without a driver.