Low carbon transport

We are promoting the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and aim to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, ahead of the UK Government's 2040 target.

Data from the Department for Transport licensing suggests that a total of 7,831 plug-in vehicles had been licensed in Scotland by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

The Switched on Scotland action plan, published in 2017, sets out how we will increase the purchase and use of electric vehicles. We are working with partners to deliver its actions to decrease costs, increase convenience, and change the culture so that electric vehicles (EVs) are preferred to petrol and diesel vehicles.

In the Programme for Government 2017 to 2018 we commit to taking a number of actions to increase the use of low carbon and electric vehicles in Scotland. There is more information on these below:

EV infrastructure

Scotland has one of the most comprehensive charge point networks in Europe through ChargePlace Scotland (CPS). We have invested £15 million in the CPS network since 2012, helping to install more than 800 publicly available charge points.

The average distance from any given location to the nearest public charge point is 2.78 miles in Scotland, compared with 4.09 miles across Britain.

In 2018 to 2019 we are investing £15 million in an additional 1,500 new charge points in homes, businesses and local authority land to ensure that EV owners across Scotland have access to the CPS network.

Low Carbon Transport Loan

Through Transport Scotland we are funding interest-free loans that offer drivers:

  • up to £35,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new pure electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle
  • up to £10,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new electric motorcycle or scooter

In 2018 to 2019 we increased the Low Carbon Transport Loan (LCTL), also known as the Electric Vehicle Loan, from £8 million to £20 million.

Find more information on the LCTL on Greener Scotland.

Switched on Towns and Cities

Switched on Towns and Cities is a competitive capital fund offering grants to projects to incentivise, encourage and promote the uptake of EVs. The projects will be expected to have eligible costs in the range of £1.5 million to £2.5 million, and to focus on a single town or city.

Transport Scotland plans to have a new call for bids every year, and to make up to five awards during the first round of funding. The first call for bids was launched on 20 June 2018 with a closing date of 31 August 2018.

We expect successful projects to commence in late autumn and to be delivered over a maximum of 24 months.

Find more information on Switched on Towns and Cities on Transport Scotland's website.

Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund

The Low Carbon Travel and Transport (LCTT) Challenge Fund is a Strategic Intervention of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is administered and delivered by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of Transport Scotland.

LCTT invests in low carbon transport and active travel hubs that support a variety of low-carbon vehicle refuelling infrastructure including EV charging points, hydrogen refuelling stations and gas refuelling facilities.

Round 1 funded two low carbon transport hub projects led by Falkirk Council and Perth and Kinross Council.

Round 2 funded a further nine projects, including projects with low-carbon transport elements in Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, Moray, Orkney, and Stirling.

Read the news story: New funding for active travel and low carbon hubs.

Find more information on LCTT on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Electric A9

The Electric A9 will deliver EV charge point 'hubs' in and around local communities along the A9. Each hub will provide multiple charge points with access to associated amenities, benefiting both local residents and people driving long distances.

Find more information on the Electric A9 on the CPS website.

Hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells (HFC) are another low-carbon alternative for powering vehicles. Compared with EVs, HFCs generally have greater range and faster fuelling times, but are more complex, more expensive, and lack fuelling infrastructure. We believe they are best suited to heavy duty applications such as buses, taxis, freight and rail vehicles.

We are collaborating with Transport Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and stakeholders (represented by the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association) on a number of workstreams on HFCs, including strategic groups and reports.

The main HFC projects in Scotland are:

  • Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project
  • Levenmouth Community Energy Project / Fife Council Hydrogen Station
  • Orkney 'Suft and Turf' and Big Hit hydrogen projects
  • Dundee City Council
  • Perth and Kinross Council
  • Scottish Cities Alliance

Transport emissions in Scotland

Transport contributes to more than a quarter of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions, with the road sector accounting for the largest proportion of these.

Cars, lorries, vans, buses and motorcycles collectively accounted for 9.6 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) of the overall transport emissions in 2015 (73% of total transport emissions) which compared to 9.3 MtCO2e (69%) in 1990.

The Carbon Account for Transport shows that Scottish transport emissions are now around 13 MtCO2e. That's below the 2007 peak of around 15 MtCO2e, but well above our objective for a decarbonised transport system. That figure includes all transport, but over two thirds of these emissions are from road transport, which makes this the obvious place to start.