Sales in the United States of the UK-produced Mini have soared ahead of those in Britain for the first time. And that’s just part of the story…
A 27% rise in U.S. sales year-to-date through September showed 40,694 Minis being sold. Over the same period in Britain, some 35,496 Minis were sold. (About 80% of the 240,000 Minis produced annually at the company's plant in Oxford are exported.)
The soaring price of gas is the likely culprit; that, and the fact that American’s love their MINIs. In fact, 500 new electric MINIs are going up for sale in California in 2009, but that’s just the tip of the oil well. New government-spurred green initiatives in Britain will encourage British manufacturers to produce a surge of electric and hybrid cars.
Speaking at an International Experts Meeting, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "Electric cars and other low carbon vehicles, like plug-in hybrids, cut fuel costs and reduce harmful emissions. If we can inspire more people to use them, it will help us to make a positive impact on climate change.
"Alongside this, their research and manufacture is an emerging industry with the potential to create new jobs and safeguard existing employment in the UK. Therefore exploring how to ensure they are a practical and affordable everyday option makes sense all round. That is what the cross Government package of measures announced today will do."
That £100m pledge includes £20m dedicated to UK research into improving technology that could make electric and other green cars more practical and affordable. Another £10m will be earmarked for a test project for participating manufacturers to run electric car and ultra low carbon vehicles. And another £20m will provide van manufacturers with a cash influx to ensure that the vans’ carbon footprint – equating to 15% of road emissions in the UK – will meet stringent new emissions standards.
Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, added that “the Government-funded Technology Strategy Board is providing further investment of up to £30m to support industry R&D and demonstrations of electric and other low carbon vehicles. This investment will accelerate the development of these vehicles and bring benefits to UK businesses and, ultimately, help to meet the UK's emissions targets.
"The technologies for low carbon vehicles are developing fast, whether for all-electric, hybrid or alternative fuels. The challenge for the UK is to ensure industry takes full advantage of this shift and explores opportunities now, to position itself as a world leader in low carbon vehicle technology in the long term.”
The British Government sounds pretty serious about this, vowing a commitment to facilitate the roll-out of electrical charging infrastructure through the planning system and to collaborate with other countries to develop international standards and consider how best to encourage the right consumer market to promote electric and other low carbon vehicles.
Land Rover and MINI sales will both, no doubt, benefit greatly from Britain’s new green initiative.
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