The trials were officially launched by Science Minister Lord Drayson and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis at Guild Hall Yard, London, on Tuesday, 23 June 2009.
The trials are part of the Technology Strategy Board's (TSB) Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition to bring together industry, the public sector and universities to develop low emission vehicles.
The locations for the trials are: London and the south east; Coventry & Birmingham; Oxford; Glasgow; and Gateshead & Tees Valley.
The demonstration programme will mean that over 300 motorists will have the opportunity to drive an electric car, familiarise themselves with the technology and, crucially, provide the feedback needed to make greener motoring a reality.
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Low Carbon doesn't mean low performance. Modern electric cars offer power and bucket loads of torque.
Today's announcement signals our intent to reduce our dependence on petrol- and diesel-based engines, and determine the best practical alternatives.
Government and consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly vehicles is already creating business opportunities for established industry players and innovative new entrants."
Science Minister Lord Drayson
We want Britain to be at the forefront of ultra-low carbon automotive technology, blazing a trail for environmentally friendly transportation.
Central to our plans is the stimulation of demand for low carbon cars through projects like this to test the technology and give motorists the opportunity to feedback the information needed to make greener motoring a reality.
Our aim is for ultra-low carbon vehicles to be an everyday feature of life on Britains roads in less than five years. This is a challenging target and there is still a long way to go. However, if we continuing to work closely with motorists and the industry with initiatives like the demonstrations project, I believe it is achievable.
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis
The journey towards low carbon transport will not be easy, but the demonstrator programme, which we are launching is a major step in the right direction. With over 340 cars being trialled in several regions across the UK, and with the involvement of large and small manufacturers, local authorities and infrastructure companies, it is the biggest project of its kind to date.
Technology Strategy Board Chief Executive Iain Gray
For me this announcement signals the start of an exciting journey that will see a radical change in the type of cars that we see on the UKs roads in the next half century. The fact that there will be a move towards making these cars as appealing and as powerful as petrol consuming vehicles makes the next few decades a very interesting time for the environmentally conscious UK car driver.
Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson
To compete in a global economy and create the jobs of the future, Britain requires a regulatory environment that encourages enterprise, skilled people, innovation, and world-class science and research.
The merger of BERR and DIUS brings together the parts of the government with key expertise in these areas.