Pre-election it seems every political party in the UK is keen to push forward the demise of new combustion engine car production without telling us how. It is one thing putting a finger in the air and saying the sale of combustion engine cars should end in 2040 or even 2030 or earlier but it is quite another thing explaining how we will get there. Yes, the SMMT show us that the market share for new EVs has jumped from 0.8% to 2.2% between 2018-2019 but that is still dwarfed by the 60.1 % petrol and 31.5% diesel sales for new cars.
Grants for Plug-In hybrids ended
Plug-in hybrid sales dropped 26% in this same period although that can be attributed to the abrupt ending of the plug-in grant for hybrids. This was a retrograde step. Urban myths escalated of company car drivers getting 4x4 plug-in hybrids for the tax incentives and never plugging them in. This certainly has not been my experience when I have been late getting to company charging points and finding them filled by the hybrid brigade. Plug-in hybrids can be a stepping stone to full electric. You get used to plugging in without any range anxiety. After a plug-in it is easier to make that switch to full electric.
To be clear the climate crisis is real, and all sectors should be working flat-out to encourage and speed up change to reduce Co2 output and indeed to improve air quality. But we need practical medium and long-term plans to help achieve those targets rather than the targets becoming benign aspirations.
The easiest way to do this is to give big incentives to fleets to go electric because the new fleet car of today is the ‘new’ used car in two or three years.
Norway’s target was that all new cars sold by 2025 should be zero emissions. Yes, a very ambitious target but Norway started down this path earlier and indeed put their money where their mouth is. Incentives for EVs have included:
We are not Norway and the incentives have cost a fortune, but per capita Norway now has the biggest concentration of EVs anywhere in the world.
Expansion of Ultra Low Emmision Zones
In the UK the expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zones has the potential to render up to one million older, mainly diesel, cars redundant. So we need measures to speed up the supply of EVs in the used car market.
There are a couple of promises the political parties could make to speed this up:
- Cut VAT to zero on all new EVs for five years
- Give longer-term commitments to lower company car tax for EVs
- Give more generous and longer-term grants for home chargers
This would accelerate the market the market and certainly get my vote.
Edmund (02 December 2019)