A transport minister has told the Electric Vehicle Summit that the government’s objective is a low carbon road transport system in which electric power is not only seen as a cleaner alternative to petrol and diesel, but also as a more viable, practical and affordable alternative for millions of motorists.

Baroness Kramer told the conference: “Some people think that objective is a pipe dream. And that the internal combustion engine will somehow carry on powering road vehicles forever.

“Granted, electric car sales got off to a slow start. In 2010, the first year of coalition government, just 111 plug-in cars were bought in this country.

“But by 2013, that figure had risen to 3,585. And that rapid rate of growth has continued this year.

“Between January and the end of August, almost 6,000 electric cars have been sold - nearly three times the equivalent number last year. So there’s real momentum in the electric car market today.

“But impressive as the latest sales figures are, they will be dwarfed by what’s to come over the next few decades. The reality is that we are standing on the cusp of a technological revolution.

“By 2050, we expect almost every car on the road to be ultra low emission. That’s going to be as significant as the move from coal to petroleum.”

She said the Government wanted Britain to be the world’s leading market for electric and low carbon vehicles and highlighted investment in charging facilities.

She continued: “We will invest £200m to extend the plug-in grant, which cuts the up-front cost of an ultra-low emission vehicle by up to £5,000, making the choice to go green cheaper in the showroom as well as on the road. The last quarter saw a doubling of people receiving the grant compared with the previous quarter, which was itself a record.

“Second, we are taking action to extend the electric charging infrastructure. The UK already has the best network of rapid chargepoints in Europe. And London has more chargepoints than petrol stations.

“But we’ve recently announced a £32m funding boost for chargers, including plans to install rapid chargepoints across the ‘M’ and ‘A’ road network from 2015. By the end of this year, there will be rapid chargepoints in every motorway service station in England, taking as little as 20 minutes to charge up a car.

“And we’ve also provided £37m to make it cheaper to install charging facilities at home and on local streets.”