Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed an electric MINI to Downing Street and backed the trials involving Oxford Brookes University.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has welcomed an all-electric, zero emissions MINI E to the Government car pool in Downing Street. The MINI E will be tested by ministers wanting to try a fully-fledged electric car in an urban environment on their official business around London.
The MINI E was presented to the government car pool by Tim Abbott, Managing Director of BMW Group, following the handover of 40 identical cars to pioneering drivers on Sunday to members of the public who will run the cars as part of an important scientific field trial.
Oxford Brookes University's Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will manage the collation of research throughout the UK project. This will include analysis of driver experiences with the MINI E, as well as reviewing the technical information provided by the data-logging units fitted to each car.
The Prime Minister was joined by Cabinet colleagues, including the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of electric vehicle development through the Government's Technology Strategy Board.
The Prime Minister said: "I congratulate BMW and MINI for their ground-breaking electric MINI project and I welcome the extensive user field trial that has now begun."
Lord Mandelson said: "I am delighted that the MINI E is going to be put through its paces by Government ministers for two months. The Government is keen to show that driving electric vehicles is fun. I want the UK to be a world leader in low carbon transport and cars like the UK-built MINI can help us achieve that aim."
The Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson were also able to meet one of the first MINI E test drivers, Oxford resident David Beesley. "It's really fun to drive and it feels great to be reducing my carbon footprint," he enthused.
Like the MINI E research projects in North America and Germany, the UK trial is a collaborative effort between the partners in a BMW Group UK-led consortium involving Scottish and Southern Electric, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.
Additional funding is provided by the Technology Strategy Board as part of a UK-wide programme involving trials of 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles from several manufacturers.