Efforts to improve the EV charging infrastructure as well as the UK’s competitiveness need to be redoubled, says the SMMT.
The trade body’s outgoing president, George Gillespie, made the rallying call last night (Nov 23) at the organisation’s annual dinner.
He said: ‘We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero-emission-capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now.
‘We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist: it is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes.
‘This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.’
The SMMT said the automotive sector was accelerating the introduction of zero-emission vehicles and a third of British-made cars were now electrified, with more plug-in vehicles set to be registered this year – some 287,000 – than in the past decade combined.
It added that although manufacturers were committed to decarbonising cars and vans by 2035, there were still ‘significant challenges’, including the worldwide shortage of semiconductors.
In addition, the UK’s manufacturing sector was being hampered by high energy prices, uncompetitive business rates plus additional trade costs compared with its competitors on the continent and beyond.
It wants to see long-term strategies to deal with the deficiencies, adding that a close collaboration between industry and the government was ‘critical’ for the sector to stay competitive internationally.
Gillespie said: ‘We need access to skilled staff. We need free access to markets. We need the right government incentives to develop new technologies and continue to lead the world and help to deal with rising transport and energy costs.’
The UK’s major advantages was the size of its new car and van market – Europe’s second largest in Europe – and that people embraced new technology.
The SMMT said maintaining the strong market was vital during the transition to new forms of mobility. However, it added that ‘the infrastructure to power this transition is not keeping pace’.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘This industry does “delivery”. We will decarbonise road transport – cars by 2035, buses likely earlier, HGVs likely only a bit later.
‘But as electric vehicle sales race ahead, on-street charging infrastructure is increasing slowly.
‘We look to government to create the conditions – maybe mandate the conditions – to accelerate the infrastructure across the country as we need others to match our speed.’