Motor industry figures have reacted to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s proposal to push forward the UK government’s plans to impose a blanket ban on new petrol and diesel cars as part of its ‘Road to Zero’ emissions policy.
The report also stressed the importance of introducing electric vehicles (EVs) on a large scale, in conjunction with the UK’s commitment to reducing it’s overall carbon emissions.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “The government’s 2040 ambition was already extremely challenging, so to fast-track that by eight years would be nigh on impossible. We said we need world-class infrastructure and world-class incentives to have any chance of delivering so the recent cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant and lack of charging facilities – both of which are severely criticised by the Committee – show just how difficult it would be to accelerate this transition.
“Zero emission vehicles make up just 0.6% of the market meaning consumer appetite would have to grow by some 17,000% in just over a decade. This is unrealistic and rejects the evidence put forward by SMMT on behalf of the industry, which is investing billions into these technologies but which recognises consumers need greater confidence and support if they are to buy these vehicles in the numbers we all want.”
The report by the business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee found that the poor provision of charging points for electric vehicles (EVs) is one of the greatest barriers to growing the UK EV market. The 2040 targets in its Road to Zero scheme were also described as ”vague and unambitious.”
British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney echoed the conclusions of the report: “The government’s electric vehicle strategy needs to move from one based on visions to one based on actions. If India, China and Scotland feel able to set a target of banning new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, then the UK should be brave enough to meet that challenge as well.
“As the purchasers of more than 50% of all new vehicles sold in the UK each year, the vehicle rental and leasing industry is more than capable of delivering this transition to zero emission transport – if the government can provide the right supportive environment. At the moment, we have a misguided strategy that is withdrawing incentives and raising taxes for electric vehicles at the exact time we are trying to drive uptake.”
Regarding subsidies to electric vehicles, the committee report said: “The government should ensure buyers of electric vehicles benefit from preferential Vehicle Excise Duty rates and that the introduction of preferential rates on company car tax for EVs is brought forward without delay.”