HUNDREDS of company car parks in Scotland's biggest cities could be converted into electric vehicle charging "hubs" in order to accelerate uptake of the new technology and provide extra residential parking spaces.

ScottishPower, one of the firms spearheading development of electric vehicles north of the Border, believes there is huge potential for residents to charge their cars in spaces that lie deserted overnight. It is planning to develop the concept over the next decade in collaboration with councils and employers.

As well as providing the infrastructure needed for people to convert from petrol and diesel cars, this would also supply a fresh source of much-needed extra parking spaces in densely populated urban areas.

The company hopes conversion of private car parks could form part of the next wave in development of low carbon vehicle technology in addition to the construction of a network of public charging points.

Willie Kinnaird, new business development manager at ScottishPower, said the firm's offices at Cathcart in the south side of Glasgow, which has 200 parking spaces, could be an ideal location to develop the idea.

"If you look at our Cathcart offices, the car park is full during the day then deserted at night, while people struggle to get a parking spot on residential streets nearby," he said.

"The advantage of using a car park like that for electric vehicle charging is that it could be used by staff during the day but then provide parking spaces for residents who could charge their vehicles overnight."

The Scottish Government has so far announced £8.5 million funding for electric vehicles to subsidise the higher purchase cost and pay for a network of public charging points. However, there are fears that the shortage of off-street parking in cities which are dominated by tenement housing, could provide an obstacle to drivers who are interested in buying an electric car but fear being left without a means of charging it.

In England, the Department for Transport last year dropped plans to build a network of charging points after acknowledging that most motorists would charge vehicles at home.

ScottishPower has two charging points at its Cathcart offices as part of its involvement in the UK-wide Plugged in Places scheme, which is trialling electric vehicles at five locations.

A number of other companies, including supermarket chains Tesco and Sainsbury's, have expressed interest in installing charging points in their car parks but trials have so far been largely restricted to London.

ScottishPower's plans were welcomed by environmental charity WWF Scotland, which has previously claimed that 290,000 electric vehicles will be needed on Scotland's roads by 2020 to meet the Scottish Government's climate change targets.

Dan Barlow, head of policy, said: "Putting in place the right charging infrastructure that meets the needs of users will be key to the large-scale take-up of electric vehicles, and finding plug-in solutions which work for those living in tenements needs to be a part of this.

"Using workplace car parks at night as charge points for those in the local community to use makes a lot of sense and we would encourage businesses to go further by switching their own fleets to electric vehicles."