This week’s government ambivalence over the longstanding 2030 EV sales deadline is potentially “damaging for fleets” who are committed to electrification, says FleetCheck.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, said that prime minister Rishi Sunak’s equivocation when asked about the deadline by an interviewer had set alarm bells ringing across the industry.

“It seems pretty clear that the government believes there might be some electoral gain in appearing to backtrack on green policies but they have to realise that playing games with policy in this way has direct consequences for businesses.

“Since the introduction of the 2030 EV deadline and measures such as low benefit-in-kind taxation for electric company cars, fleets have invested massive amounts in electrification. They have done this on the basis of the government’s seemingly cast-iron commitment to an electric future.

“The way in which doubt has now been cast on that future is damaging for fleets with a wide range of potentially negative effects. It could mean, for example, company boards up and down the country asking their fleet managers whether electrification is still the way to go and could send shudders through residual values for EVs, which are at least partially predicated on electric power becoming the market norm quite quickly.”

Peter said that government ambivalence could be especially damaging for the adoption of electric vans in the short and medium term.

“The truth is that many businesses already have huge doubts about the practicalities of electric vans and won’t need much of an excuse to kick the electrification can down the road. Introducing any element of doubt into government policy is almost certainly going to slow electric van adoption. It’s that simple.”

The government’s comments would be especially badly received by motor manufacturers, who have invested billions in electrification, he added.

“Imagine if you are Tata, who last week announced a multi-billion pound investment in future UK EV manufacturing through Jaguar Land Rover, hearing days later that the same UK government that convinced you to build here was now backtracking on electrification. How would you feel?

“To some extent, the government has reiterated their support for 2030 following the prime minister’s initial comments, but we now need the strongest possible signals that the EV deadline remains in place and that this administration is committed to it. It should be stated unambiguously that there will be no backtracking and no loopholes introduced.

“They need to repair the damage that has been caused by their carelessness and work to restore the solid foundations on which fleets and other parties in the motor industry have been building an electric future.”