Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:06 UK

Brown drives green car revolution

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is shown the latest model hybrid Vauxhall at the British International Motor Show 2008
Gordon Brown wants a revolution in the way Britons drive

Gordon Brown has urged car makers to use their expertise to develop new cleaner vehicles and help Britain become a lower carbon economy.

Speaking at the British International Motor Show, the prime minister said rising oil costs opened up "huge opportunities" for a green revolution.

He also announced a raft of measures to encourage drivers to use electric and low carbon cars.

Cars of this type make up just over 1% of the UK's 26 million vehicles.

The prime minister opened the motor show at London's ExCel Exhibition Centre, where he also held talks with motor industry and energy chiefs.

He said road transport had reached an "historic turning point" and rising fuel prices created "huge opportunities for technological innovation and commercial change".

Clean future

"The rising cost of oil forces all of us to consider how to reduce our dependence on oil," he said.

"It's in a sense a once in a generation opportunity to transform our country to a clean energy future."

Mr Brown outlined measures aimed at assisting the changeover to low carbon and electric vehicles.

He said the government was working towards a situation where electric-powered cars could be charged in thousands of streets, and it would spend 90m over the next five years to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles.

Business Secretary John Hutton and Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly were also at the meeting, where a possible timescale for the further introduction of electric and low carbon vehicles was discussed.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who attended the meeting, said everyone was "singing from the same song sheet".

"There is a recognition that we need to start now so we can introduce things in the next 10 to 15 years," he said.

The motor show runs from Wednesday 23 July to Sunday 3 August.

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