'Clear' target must be set on petrol and diesel cars, MPs warn

Darnell Taylor
October 21, 2018

The report said that poor provision of charging infrastructure was one of the greatest barriers to growth of the UK EV market, adding that public charge points will be required in residential areas for the 40-50% of homes in the UK that do not have off-street parking.

"The government's target, which is basically ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040, was hugely ambitious", he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"As part of this, we want between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of new vehicle sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040".

A range of cars are beginning to replace conventional vehicles from electric models powered by a battery charged from the grid to hybrids with an engine and a small battery which charges from braking but can not be plugged in.

"If we are serious about being electric vehicle world leaders, the government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032".

A clear United Kingdom target is needed for new cars and vans to be "truly zero-emission" - and it should be brought forward to 2032 to make the United Kingdom a world leader, the MPs said. "Through our National Infrastructure Assessment, we recommend the Government work with Ofgem and local authorities to create a truly national, visible charging network and ensure people can make the switch confident they will be able to charge their cars during or at the end of their journey - wherever in the country that is".

Martell disagreed with the Committee's finding that EV charging infrastructure is "not fit for purpose".

She also said the government needed to "get a grip" and "lead on coordinating the financial support and technical know-how necessary" for local authorities to install electric auto charging points.

The "sudden and substantial" cut to the Government's plug-in and electric vehicle grants were also criticised. "A more joined-up and consistent approach is needed from Government if the United Kingdom is to seize the business opportunities of electric vehicles and deliver carbon emissions reductions".

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Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: "For all the rhetoric of the United Kingdom becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the Government's deeds do not match the ambitions of their words".

"The UK Government's targets on zero-emissions vehicles are unambitious and vague, giving little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars".

"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 hard it would be to accelerate this transition".

A quick point about that EV market: 119,821 alternatively fuelled vehicles were sold in the United Kingdom in 2017, though that figure includes hybrids.

Chief executive Gerry Keaney said: "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".

Responding to the report, a Government spokesman said: "Our Road to Zero Strategy outlined our ambition for the United Kingdom to be the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle".

"As part of this, we want between 50% and 70% of new vehicle sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040".

Entitled electric vehicles (EVs): driving the transition, the report argues that the Government's current approach to electrifying road transport is "inconsistent", with the recent move to reduce its existing EV grant by up to £1,000 per customer, for example, standing in contrast to the aims of its Road to Zero strategy.

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