The EV industry can be incredibly beneficial to the UK economy. Highlighting this can help generate common ground between constituents and MPs with an economic focus.
A UK motorist can now choose from about 60 electric vehicle models and at the end of 2017 there were approximately 132,000 electric vehicles on UK roads (Next Green Car, 2018). The UK government is aiming to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, while the Scottish government has a more ambitious target of 2032. However, The Committee on Climate Change says this must happen nearer to 2030 to meet the 3% emission reduction per year needed to meet the carbon budget.
The UK’s strong car manufacturing industry makes it a great place for manufacturers of EVs to invest, thus creating jobs and contributing to economic growth. Over 50 000 of Nissan’s Leaf, for example, have been made at its Sunderland plant. The £36 million investment to produce the Leaf in Sunderland is estimated to support 2000 jobs at the plant and in the wider UK supply chain.
Furthermore, with renewables on the rise (see next section), an increasing amount of electricity is generated locally or regionally, for example on the roof of our homes through solar panels. So, rather than sending vast amounts of money to oil exporting countries, consumers would be sending their money to national or regional utilities, regional power plant owners, community solar and wind farms, keeping the money within the country.
The Government recognises the benefits of EVs and has adopted a number of policies to help the industry:
- The Plug-in Grant, which was setup in 2011, aims to incentivise people to buy electric cars. It currently gives £4,500 towards the cost of a new all-electric car and £2,500 towards a plug-in hybrid. In the Industrial Strategy, the government has pledged £100 million to guarantee the Plug-in Grant’s future until 2020.
- £200 million will be invested in charging point infrastructure, with this being matched by £200 million of private investment, totalling £400 million.
- Building regulations will be updated to ensure that all new residential development contain the enabling cabling for charge points in the home. £40 million will be invested to support new technologies for on-street and wireless charging.
Road to Zero Strategy
In July 2018, the Department for Transport released their ‘Road to Zero’ (RTZ) strategy, outlining how the UK will achieve the shift to zero carbon transport. Some key ambitions outlined within this strategy include:
- At least half of new car sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030, alongside up to 40% of new vans.
- Requirements for new homes and offices to install electric vehicle charging points as standard.
- New measures to tackle emissions from HGVs, a sector which until now has had no emission reduction policy. The new voluntary commitment is a 15% emission reduction from the sector by 2025.
The Strategy also recognises that many more EV charging points will be needed in the coming years. Plans include a £400m charging infrastructure investment fund that has been set up, a call for all new street lights to include charging points- though there is no mention of retrofitting existing street lighting- and all new homes to have a charge point available.
However, the Department of Transport said hybrid cars and vans would not be included in a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models from 2040. In contrast, Ireland have banned all cars with tailpipes (therefore including hybrids) from 2030. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) state that ‘to meet the Government’s stated goal of every car and van being zero emission in 2050, only pure battery electric vehicles and long range plug in hybrids can be sold after 2035, enabling the majority of journeys to be completed in electric mode.’ You can raise the significance of including hybrid cars in the 2040 ban with your MP, given that they release emissions and therefore would not be in line with the ‘zero emission’ target as the report was supposed to set out.
What can I ask my MP to do to support the EV industry?
It is always beneficial to start your conversation with your MP by addressing the positive areas of the government’s plans for EVs. You may then choose to speak to your MP about some of the following:
- You could talk to your MP about providing exemptions for EV owners. For example, in Norway owners of EVs are not charged for using toll roads, ferries or municipal parking and have access to bus lanes (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, 2016). As a result, it is estimated that 30% of vehicles on Norwegian roads are EVs, compared to 4.4% in the UK.
- Electric vehicle leaders Norway’s ban on conventional vehicle sales starts in 2025, and India, China, Slovenia, Austria, Israel, Ireland and Holland are all committed to a 2030 ban. Scotland’s ban starts in 2032. The current UK timescale is 2040. You could talk to your MP about the ambition needed for UK to maintain their position as a leader in tackling climate change.
- There is a need to improve the charging point infrastructure in the UK. Now that the Road to Zero strategy has announced plans for increased EV infrastructure investment, you could discuss with your MP what measures are being taken to provide more charging points in the local area.
- You can raise the importance of revising the Road to Zero Strategy to include a ban on the sale of conventional vans as well as cars from 2040. This is especially important given that emissions from vans are growing faster than those from any other form of transport (CCC).
- Road to Zero sets out an intention to review the take-up of EVs in 2025. The CCC warns that this is too late to put measures in place if insufficient progress is being made. You could ask your MP to raise these concerns with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling.
- The Road to Zero strategy has a large focus on cars and has no mention of switching to other modes of transport. There are currently 38 million cars on our roads. Only 3% of commuters currently cycle to work (2011 figures). Research shows major health benefits to cycle commuters such as a 50% reduction in the chance of heart disease, therefore reducing pressure on the NHS. If your MP is interested in the economic benefits of the green economy, you can talk about the importance of widening the RTZ strategy to include forms of active travel in reducing the costs to the healthcare system.
Last Updated: 16/07/ 2018