Minister reveals £4million plan to boost electric car numbers in bid to calm Nissan's Brexit fears

Business Secretary Greg Clark has set out a £4million plan to boost the number of electric vehicles on the UK's roads as he met Japanese automotive chiefs in an effort to reassure them about Brexit.

The electric vehicle scheme will allow firms to receive grants of up to £20,000 to switch large trucks to new electric-powered equivalents as part of a move to reduce air pollution.

During his visit to Japan, Mr Clark met bosses from Nissan, Honda and Toyota - firms which have major factories in the UK.

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Nissan has already raised concerns about Brexit and chief executive Carlos Ghosn held talks at Downing Street earlier this month.

A decision on whether to build the new Qashqai model at the firm's Sunderland plant is expected to be taken next month.

Speaking in Japan on Friday, Mr Ghosn said he had received reassurance that the British Government would be "extremely cautious" in "preserving the competitiveness" of theSunderland plant, Reuters reported.

The drive to boost electric goods vehicles comes following disappointing take-up of a grant offer for electric vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, which has been available since 2012.

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The new plan will offer grants to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes so that all vans and trucks meeting the necessary requirements will be eligible.

Officials hope the scheme will help take diesel-powered goods vehicles off city streets.

Mr Clark said: "The electric car revolution is well under way with consumers and this funding will encourage more businesses to consider switching to cleaner vans and trucks.

"Our automotive sector is thriving with the world's most popular electric car already made in the UK and we are forging ahead to deploy new engine technology to make low-carbon vehicles mainstream, and leading the way in driverless car technology.

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"The Government and industry continue to work together to support the UK's world class automotive industry to ensure we continue to be the number one place in the world to develop and manufacture cars."

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles hope extending the scheme will stimulate demand for more electric vans and trucks and encourage new entrants into the market.