UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the government would give more than £200 million ($260 million) to local authorities to draw up plans to tackle particular roads with high pollution.
Local measures could include altering buses and other transport to make them cleaner, changing road layouts, altering features such as speed humps, and re-programming traffic lights to make vehicle-flow smoother.
It is thought ministers will consult on a scrappage scheme later this year, but there is no firm commitment.
Ministers have been wary of being seen to “punish” drivers of diesel cars, who, they argue, bought the vehicles after being encouraged to by the last Labour government because they produced lower carbon emissions.
The industry trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said it was important to avoid outright bans on diesels, which would hurt the sector.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles was growing but still at a very low level.
The AA said significant investment would be needed to install charging points across the UK and warned the National Grid would come under pressure with a mass switch-on of recharging after the rush hour.
The UK announcement comes amid signs of an accelerating shift towards electric cars instead of petrol and diesel ones, at home and abroad.