Transport minister Andrew Jones has emphasised the contribution ultra low emission vehicles make to improving air quality.

Speaking at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) annual conference on Wednesday June 24, he said: “Ultra low emission vehicles not only help tackle climate change. They make our air cleaner too, cutting levels of particulates and other pollutants.

“Reducing levels of particulate matter could help prevent up to 29,000 premature deaths annually. While overall air quality has improved as emissions from heavy industry and transport have become cleaner, we are still failing to meet EU limits for nitrogen oxides.

“Concern over the long-term impact of diesel emissions has surfaced in regular media reports recently. And it’s unlikely to go away. So I want to urge the industry to stress the local air quality benefits of ultra low emission motoring, and in doing so spread the message to a wider audience.

“Of course we have to take into consideration the emissions produced by generating the electricity for electric vehicles. But still, ultra low emission vehicles have a very positive environmental story to tell. Indeed, there are resources on the web which compare the full range of emissions for every car which qualifies for the plug-in car-grant.

“The government is working with the EU to bring forward real world vehicle emission testing. Something that will certainly help us communicate the wider environmental message.”