Earlier this week the government announced its Net Zero strategy including a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. This included a £620 million investment for electric vehicle (EV) grants and infrastructure. While it has been welcomed, it hasn’t been without a reaction from the industry. Below we have a range of thoughts and responses from across the UK motoring sector:
SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS (SMMT)
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive industry is putting zero-emission vehicles on Britain’s roads at pace beyond all forecasts, such is the choice and appeal of these new models.
“A well-designed, flexible regulatory framework could help maintain or even increase this pace to ensure we deliver on our shared decarbonisation ambitions.
“Consumers need choice and encouragement, irrespective of where they live or what they drive. The additional targeted funding for electric vehicles is welcome and will help ensure affordability for certain models.
“To ensure we have the reliable, accessible and nationwide chargepoint network this transition needs, however, requires a similar regulatory approach.
“The announcement of additional funds for on-street residential charging must energise much-needed private sector investment but consumers will only have confidence in the future if there are commensurate and binding requirements on the infrastructure sector.
“Combining regulatory commitments with financial ones is the key to a successful transition to zero-emission road transport.”
Alfonso Martinez, LeasePlan UK managing director, said: “If we are to demonstrate global leadership in combating climate change and deliver a green recovery from the pandemic, we need to develop a resilient UK supply chain for all zero emission vehicles, including cars, vans and trucks.
“The zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate policy is welcome news – as it goes some way to address the issue around the supply of zero emission vehicles.
“Existing supply issues have been further compounded by the current semiconductor shortage, which is causing back-ups in the supply chain across the country. These delayed vehicles could be on our roads today, replacing petrol and diesel cars and vans with zero-emission alternatives and helping to clean the air.
“We support the Government’s long-standing commitment to vehicle emissions regulations, and we expect to see targets ambitious as existing arrangements – particularly by ensuring that manufacturers will continue to supply the UK with electric cars and vans. But we must ensure that this mandate does not result in further red tape.
“While infrastructure is improving, it still isn’t where it needs to be to support EV uptake en-masse. Grants have been pared back, vehicle supply is constrained, and drivers need visibility on future tax bills.
“So, it must be simple for manufacturers to supply the UK with zero emissions vehicles if we are able to lead the global charge towards cleaner air. Simply put, we need to move further, faster.”
Tanya Sinclair, ChargePoint policy director for the UK & Ireland, said “ChargePoint welcomes the government’s bold step towards transport decarbonisation by announcing the introduction of a ZEV mandate today, the first commitment of its type in Europe.
“We have seen the positive impacts on EV uptake of these schemes in North America, where they have significantly built-up availability and consumer confidence of electric vehicles.
“Across our fast-growing charging sector, a UK ZEV mandate will create huge confidence for those operating and investing in the charging industry. This industry – consisting mainly of startups and scale ups – will for the first time be able to clearly anticipate demand for charging infrastructure and create a clear roadmap to meet these targets.
“With this new policy, the UK is taking an essential step on the road to 2030 as well as contributing to the creation of a better EV driver experience in the UK.”
Paul Willcox, Vauxhall managing, said: “Vauxhall believes a ZEV mandate can work in the UK provided there are complimentary targets on the other key parts of the electric vehicle ecosystem which are key to driving Britain to a more sustainable transport infrastructure.
“With our Ellesmere Port plant set to become the first electric vehicle only factory within the Stellantis group, we look forward to working with the Government on the detail of how a ZEV mandate can be implemented and help support a sustainable vehicle marketplace in the UK.”
TRANSPORT & ENVIRONMENT (T&E)
Greg Archer, Transport & Environment (T&E) UK director, said: “The ZEV Mandate provides the certainty industry needs about how many electric vehicles will be on the UK’s roads in coming years. It enables much better planning for the shift and much lower CO2 emissions.
“In parts of the UK, nearly one in four new cars sold is now battery electric. The revolution is underway and these proposals will help to ensure there are only sales of only zero emission vehicles by 2035, allowing businesses to recruit and train the green workforce of the future.
“We welcomed the proposed backstop CO2 regulation that will ensure conventional new cars do not become less efficient as a result of the introduction of the ZEV Mandate.
“This will ensure there is no incentive for carmakers to sell more hybrids and plug-in hybrids that cannibalise the market for battery electric cars whilst offering only modest CO2 savings.”
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of policy, said: “Despite a depressed overall new car market, the growth in the uptake of electric vehicles is impressive, but that doesn’t mean that incentives to get more people to go electric should stop.
“Making EVs more affordable for the majority of UK drivers, and thus kick-starting mass EV adoption, starts with enough new vehicles being sold in the first place, so continuing the plug-in car grant and ensuring charging infrastructure is the very best it can be are both vitally important.
“But the switch to Net Zero may also affect drivers in other ways. The suggestion that road vehicle occupancy needs to increase by 2030 could be a tough message to sell to drivers, especially in light of the coronavirus.
“A focus on encouraging drivers to combine journeys, and investigate alternatives for their shortest trips, might be a more straightforward path to follow.”
Ian Plummer, Auto Trader commercial director, said: “The £620m investment in grants for electric vehicles and street charging points is welcome, but Ministers should consider how that investment is targeted.
“Our data shows that interest in electric vehicles is coming almost exclusively from wealthier postcodes. The comparatively high up-front cost of EVs is proving to be a massive barrier for people on average or below average incomes.
“The Government and industry simply has to grasp this nettle if it is to supercharge mass adoption. That might mean introducing some kind of means testing. Incentives are needed to bridge the gap between traditionally fuelled cars and EVs for those who simply cannot afford the “green premium”.
“The recent petrol crisis had a big impact on interest in electric vehicles. We saw a huge spike in views on our marketplace and it’s persisting. People are very receptive, but at the moment price is a problem and non-targeted incentives may not make much of a dent in that.
“The irony is that many EVs are actually cheaper to own than their petrol equivalents, but it can take three years or more before that benefit becomes apparent. At Auto Trader we’re developing a feature that will help people understand the total cost of vehicle ownership.
“The importance of addressing affordability becomes all the more apparent when you consider the bigger picture, especially the used car market which is incredibly hot.
“Each month we take a basket of prices on the Auto Trader marketplace and a number of other sources including retailers’ and manufacturers’ websites, to calculate the average price of a used car.
“The latest data shows the average is £19,018, up almost 24 per cent year on year. In fact the average increased 0.6 percent in just the last week.”
THE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITTE (CCC)
Chris Stark, Climate Change Committee chief executive, said: “We didn’t have a plan before, now we do. This is a substantial step forward that lays out clearly the government’s ambitions to cut emissions across the economy over the coming 15 years and beyond.
“It provides much more clarity about what lies ahead for businesses and individuals and the key actions required in the coming decades to deliver a Net Zero nation.
“It also gives the UK a strong basis to be president of the forthcoming COP26 summit. The critical next step is turning words into deeds. We have begun to assess the strategy in more detail and the extent to which the policies proposed in this strategy deliver their ambition.”
BRITISH VEHICLE RENTAL AND LEASING ASSOCIATION (BVRLA)
Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive said: “This is uncharted territory for the automotive industry, and it is vital that any future ZEV mandate includes a review mechanism to assess potential market failures.
“The mandate must also take account of the very different uptake trajectories seen between cars and vans.
“We hope that next week’s Budget will see the Government commit to providing long-term financial support and tax incentives that will accelerate the roll-out of public and private charging infrastructure and absorb the price premium that many prospective electric vehicle users are still faced with.”
Andy Alderson, Vanarama CEO and founder, said: “Orders for electric cars skyrocketed by more than 1,000 percent in 2021 and more than double since fuel shortages began in late September.
“The huge surge in consumer demand for EVs is far outpacing the roll-out of public charge points, and that the £620 million investment announced this week as part of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy goes nowhere near far enough.
“A failure by ministers to accelerate investment risks stalling the switch from internal combustion cars, putting the goal to end the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030 at risk. This would be failing UK motorists, the UK automotive industry and the environment.
“The Government needs to act and act quickly if it is to remain on course for its Net Zero targets.
“We are seeing massive demand for electric vehicles and that demand is growing all the time. But if nothing is done to improve the availability of public charge points, we risk losing the momentum.
“Every car manufacturer has accelerated plans for electric vehicles and it’s imperative that the government follows suit.