Lords Committee asks UK ministers for grants to make electric cars more affordable

“Progress is not happening fast enough and major barriers remain,” claimed the Lords’ report

A House of Lords committee has called upon ministers to step in with policies and tackle the many issues facing the UK’s electric vehicles scene, through grants to make electric cars more affordable and improve the charging infrastructure.

The report titled ‘EV strategy: rapid recharge needed’ presented by Environment and Climate Change Committee claimed that the country was not making significant enough strides to become a country that aims to stop the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

The ban of fossil fuel vehicles, which was earlier supposed to come into effect in 2030, was controversially pushed ahead by five years by PM Rishi Sunak, with many EV manufacturers expressing their concerns and accusing the government of lacking any industrial strategy.

The report said that although there has been some progress in the rollout of the UK’s charging infrastructure and recent strategies to enhance UK innovation and manufacturing, the progress is “not happening fast enough and major barriers remain”.

> “No industrial strategy”: EV makers worried after Rishi Sunak pushes ban on fossil fuel cars to 2035

Lamppost charging station for EVs
Lamppost charging station for EVs, London

While the UK’s public charging network has improved in the past year, increasing by 45 per cent with total public EV chargers reaching up to 53,700 in 2023, some key targets have still been missed.

Last month, a report from RAC revealed that the UK had failed to meet its target of having at least six rapid EV chargers on motorways by 2023, based on a pledge made by the DfT in 2022.

Over the past few months, several industry leaders, including Moto Hospitality’s CEO Ken McMeikan as well as Andy Palmer, former CEO of Aston Martin and often called the “godfather of EVs” for launching the Nissan Leaf, have criticised the UK Government’s policy and strategy around electric vehicles.

The Lords Committee called on the government to introduce grants that would tackle the disparity in upfront costs between electric and petrol and diesel cars, especially when it comes to buying cheaper or used EVs.

> Big auto lobby allegedly influenced UK Government to undermine electric car rules

 The Committee also suggested improvements to the charging infrastructure rollout, including reviewing outdated and disproportionate planning regulations, and ensuring charging is reasonably priced, convenient and reliable.

The final recommendation made by the Committee called on the UK to invest in recycling so that the UK is able to recoup as many of the critical materials contained in EV batteries as possible for its own domestic production.

The Chair of the inquiry, Baroness Parminter, 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.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of SMMT, said: “The Lords report recognises the role government must play in accelerating the EV transition. Many of the recommendations have already been highlighted by industry, such as chargepoint rollout ahead of need, equalising VAT on public charging to home charging and the importance of purchase incentives, which could be delivered by a VAT cut.

“The report also notes the need for clear, consistent communication of the UK’s ambition. The industry will continue to work with government to ensure this is a transition for all – including Ministers whose cars should also be electric by the end of the year.”

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