No one knows what the UK government’s position is on electric mobility and clean energy these days. Whatever one might think of Boris Johnson, he at least talked about a green game, and his administration has put in place some constructive pro-EV policies. His ill-fated successor put climate change deniers in charge of environmental policy, pushed for a vast expansion of oil production and even proposed banning ground-mounted solar panels.
At present, UK Government policy calls for ICE vehicles to be phased out by 2035. But 13 years is a long time, and some in the EV industry apparently fear that implementing actual of this policy doesn’t end up being quite the thing. An ICE ban may seem like a drastic move, but if it doesn’t include intermediate targets (as California’s Advanced Clean Cars II regulations do), automakers could delay action for another decade, and infrastructure providers and other industry players may have little incentive to invest.
A group of industry players, including Ford, ChargePoint and battery manufacturer Britishvolt, recently sent an open letter to the UK Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial strategy, asking them to resist pressure to water down the ICE Ban project.
The letter says, in part:
The decision to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2035 puts the UK on track to be among the G7 countries to switch to electric vehicles. What matters now are the policy levers and catalysts to help manufacturers and customers make this change. An ambitious mandate for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) would ensure a minimum proportion of electric vehicles on the road from 2024 and provide a clear signal and trajectory for infrastructure investors to accelerate the deployment of charging stations.
We understand that the design and ambition of the mandate is still under discussion within government and that a response to the consultation is expected shortly. We urge the government to act quickly and introduce legislation to ensure the mandate is operational from 2024, as originally planned.
The benefits of UK government leadership on this issue are already visible. Major investments to support the transition to electric vehicles in the UK have created and safeguarded thousands of jobs, with the prospect of many more to come. The government’s own assessment estimated that 40,000 additional jobs will be created by the transition to electric vehicles. From vehicle research and design to chargers and software; to energy services and to the vital and ongoing task of installing, supporting and maintaining vehicles and networks: every corner of the UK has the opportunity to benefit from the transition.
In September, 17% of new cars sold were fully electric. At 11.6% and 6.6% for 2021 and 20201 respectively, we see an impressive level of growth that puts the UK in sight of the 22% floor for 2024 set in the consultation on the ZEV2 mandate. The introduction of this legislation will provide a clear and reliable signal to infrastructure providers on EV supply, thereby reducing the risks associated with charging station investment decisions.
This signal is crucial to help accelerate the weekly installation rate of new public charging infrastructure. Accelerating the deployment of charging stations is key to building consumer confidence, especially when customers do not have access to charging infrastructure at home or at work. As manufacturers bring more and more electric vehicle models to market and sales continue to increase, any risk of oversupply of charging stations becomes negligible.
Given the success of the UK government’s approach to boosting uptake of electric vehicles so far, we encourage ministers to protect the current trajectory of the ZEV mandate by limiting the flexibilities allowed under a ZEV mandate, in order to avoid dampening the impact of the investment signal. Allowing automakers to “borrow” massively for future EV deliveries, thereby curbing deliveries in the early years of the mandate, will weaken targets and projected CO emissions.2 reductions and slow deployment of infrastructure due to fewer electric vehicles coming to market. Such an approach would mean losing the hard-won gains the UK has made by going further and faster than the EU on this issue.
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