Ahead of a possible announcement from government bringing forward the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales to 2035 or even 2030, local government and business leaders in the South East have reiterated their call for a targeted action plan to speed up the UK’s switch to electric vehicles.
Currently, only around 7% of vehicles bought in the UK are zero emissions. To accelerate that, Transport for the South East has set out a package of support measures aimed at both consumers and the automotive industry including financial incentives for drivers, improved electric vehicle charging infrastructure and grants to encourage manufacturers to shift production to zero emissions models.
The call follows new research from Transport for the South East which showed that even if 100% of cars were electric by 2050 (along with 80% of vans and 60% of HGVs, considered an optimistic forecast), vehicle carbon emissions would still be around 13% of today’s levels. Under a more likely conversion scenario (80% of cars, 60% of vans and 40% of HGVs converted to electric), vehicle carbon emissions in 2050 would be around 28% of today’s levels.
Ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be a critical point on the UK’s journey to zero carbon emissions – but agreeing a date is not enough. Whether the target is 2040, 2035 or 2030, it must be accompanied by a clear and costed action plan setting out how we are going to reach this important milestone.
We have a once-in-a-generation chance to put the UK on the right trajectory to avoid the catastrophic impacts of carbon induced global warming. It will need investment at a time when we’ve already spent billions dealing with the impact of Covid-19. As painful as this might be, it pales against the financial and economic consequences if we fail to act properly.Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East
The measures Transport for the South East has put forward include:
- Financial incentives to encourage people and businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles, including changes to vehicle excise duty
- Research and development grants to help the car industry shift production to zero emission vehicles
- Improved charging infrastructure for electric car users and further funding for research into the establishment of a hydrogen distribution network
- Government to lead by example, ensuring zero-emission fleets across central and local government well before the proposed end date to help drive demand
- Clear, consistent and effective advice for consumers on fuel and technology choices
- Continued research into smart charging to lessen the potential burden of electric vehicles on the national electricity grid and ensure the UK electricity system is not a blocker to rapid take-up of electric vehicles
- Support the roll-out of electric vehicles through the planning system, with electric charging points in all new housing development, new streetlights and off-street parking facilities
Support for lower income households
Transport for the South East has also called for a package of financial support specifically to help lower income households make the switch to electric vehicles – which have higher up-front costs than comparable petrol and diesel models – and benefit from their lower running costs as well as reduced carbon emissions.
The introduction of financing options and the development of a second-hand market with support for battery refit costs and warranty guarantees would also help overcome some of the existing barriers to electric vehicle ownership.
Cllr Glazier continued: “Electric vehicles are cheaper to run but more expensive to buy. Without the right financial support, people from lower income households will bear the brunt of higher fuel, maintenance and repair costs that come with owning older conventional vehicles.”
Read Transport for the South East’s response to the Department for Transport consultation on ending the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans here.