A new report has called on the Government to rapidly increase the transition to electric vehicles to meet net zero targets and to avoid falling behind global competitors.
The House of Lords committee report, published today, outlined a number of recommendations to make electric vehicles more attractive to drivers through information, a sophisticated charging network and financial incentives.
In its report “EV strategy: rapid recharge needed”, the Environment and Climate Change Committee outlined how the UK was at risk of falling behind other major economies if it did not support the uptake of electric vehicles.
It welcomed the introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate in getting more EVs on the market and promoting competition to bring prices down for consumers.
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The report urges the Government to roll out several major changes to support EV uptake
However, it noted that the Government was not acting fast enough to get drivers to switch, highlighting how it failed to “build public confidence” after the Prime Minister’s net zero speech in September last year.
Rishi Sunak announced that the deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be delayed from 2030 to 2035 to bring the UK in line with countries like Germany, France and Canada.
The report also noted how the Government had not tackled the disparity in upfront costs between EVs and internal combustion engine vehicles and the lack of financial incentives on offer.
The plug-in car grant was previously available to drivers to save £1,500 on the cost of a new electric vehicle but was scrapped in June 2022, although some manufacturers are now offering grants or scrappage schemes to get motorists to make the switch to an EV.
Baroness Parminter, Chair of the inquiry, said: “Surface transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector for CO2, with passenger cars responsible for over half those emissions.
“The evidence we received shows the Government must do more – and quickly – to get people to adopt EVs.
“If it fails to heed our recommendations the UK won’t reap the significant benefits of better air quality and will lag in the slow lane for tackling climate change.”
The report recommends that the Government should explore “targeted grants” to cut costs below an appropriate threshold to help stimulate the EV market and help “counteract the trend towards SUVs which have broader environmental costs”.
It also suggested that all cabinet members should be driven in electric vehicles by the end of 2024 to make EVs seem more reliable, as well as introducing new planning rules to ensure there aren’t as many roadblocks in the way of installing more chargers.
Simon Williams, RAC head of policy, said: “We welcome this important and far-reaching report from the House of Lords and urge the Government to take the recommendations it makes seriously.
“We have long argued that mass uptake of EVs – which is the Government’s aim – depends on prices falling to make them the natural choice for more people, so we are particularly pleased to see the Committee supporting the introduction of targeted grants for new electric cars, aimed at the more affordable end of the market.
“We believe the UK was too hasty in scrapping the plug-in car grant as it did lead to more lower-priced models being introduced.
The report praised investment into the UK’s automotive industry, headlined by Nissan’s £2billion boost
“Without further financial support, it will be a long time before the majority of drivers will be able to afford to make the switch to electric.”
Similarly, Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy, said the Government must take steps to remove the biggest barriers to adoption – namely lowering the upfront cost of buying a new zero emission vehicle.
She said: “The Government and chargepoint operators must continue working together to ensure the UK’s charging infrastructure is up to scratch.
“Charging must be easy and reliable to support more people to make the move to an electric car.”