A 50 per cent tax should be added to the most-polluting cars to encourage buyers to switch to electric vehicles, says a sustainable energy research organisation.
The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) says buying habits have been altered by the coronavirus pandemic, as people delay buying electric cars until a 300-mile range is standard or try to find better value for money.
The latter means EV purchases could decline as they’re more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents at the point of purchase.
According to UKERC research, one million extra diesel cars will be on the road in 2025. It also suggests there would have been 4.7m fewer diesel vehicles between 2020 and 2030 without the pandemic.
The organisation’s Review of Energy Policy 2020 is in favour of the petrol and diesel ban that comes into force in 2030, but said there should be a phased approach.
It said the 2030 date ‘is helpful in providing a long-term signal and driving down emissions in the medium to long term, but setting a future date which defines a before/after market may be too blunt and will lead to distortions and perverse behaviours in the lead up’.
One example it gave is manufacturers flooding the market with petrol and diesel models in 2029, which would have a ‘long tail’ effect on CO2 emissions.
UKERC’s Professor Rob Gross said: ‘You might think that people not buying cars is a good thing for the environment. But it’s not a good thing if they delay buying a relatively inefficient car, and that car is still being used for longer.
‘Every gram of CO2 that enters the atmosphere stays there, potentially for hundreds of years.’
The report also points to the importance of investing in public charging infrastructure as well as recommending discounts on services such as ferries, parking and toll roads for EV drivers.