urgent action needed by government to hit electric car targetsurgent action needed by government to hit electric car targets


House of Lords inquiry warns government needs ‘urgent action’ to hit electric car targets

  • House of Lords committee report on what is needed to help the transition to electric cars is finally released
  • Reforming vehicle tax, boosting used electric car sales with incentives and reduced VAT on charging suggested
  • If government fails to head recommendations, report warns UK will remain in climate change ‘slow lane’

Time 1:17 am, February 6, 2024

The government needs to take ‘urgent’ action to encourage more consumers into electric vehicles, a House of Lords committee has warned.

A report – EV Strategy: Rapid Recharge Needed – published today warns the government that it needs to implement a series of strategies if it’s to hit its ambitious targets.

The report suggests boosting used electric car sales with a ‘battery health standard’ and financial incentives, reforming vehicle tax so consumers know where they’ll stand in the future if they buy an EV and reducing the VAT rate for public charging to 5%.

The report heard evidence from car makers, charging firms and car dealers as part of the investigation, which started in August last year.

Baroness Parminter, chair of the inquiry, said: ‘The evidence we received shows the government must do more 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.’

The report warns progress is ‘not happening fast enough’ and says there are still ‘major barriers’.

The report said: ‘EVs are still more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts, and there is an insufficient range of affordable EVs on the market. 

‘Up to 40 per cent of households do not have off-street parking at home and thus are entirely reliant on public charging. 

‘The availability of public charge points across the UK is highly variable, and the government has missed its targets for motorway charge points. 

‘Major funding programmes for public charge points have faced serious delays. 

‘Many consumers face considerable anxiety around whether and where they will be able to charge EVs reliably, affordably, and quickly, and around the battery range of second-hand cars.’

The report says ‘consumer confidence’ is critical to securing a successful transition to EV and suggests the government does more to ‘convey a positive vision on the EV transition’.

The report added: ‘Faced with conflicting claims and alarmist headlines, consumers need a go-to source of comprehensive, clear and balanced information so they can make informed decisions about their vehicles. 

‘The government must develop a communication strategy in collaboration with industry and consumer organisations to provide this resource.’

Tackling the disparity in upfront costs between petrol and diesel cars and EVs is also highlighted with the report suggesting ‘targeted grants’ should be ‘reconsidered’ for EV purchases.

The report said the government removed the incentives that were in place ‘prematurely’.

It also suggests the charging infrastructure roll out is ‘turbocharged’. It warns ‘outdated’ planning rules are holding this back and local authorities need funding to help meet the targets.

The report adds: ‘If the government now moves forward with renewed and concerted focus, it is still possible to ensure a successful EV transition that enjoys the confidence of the public and makes the necessary contribution to the UK’s net zero targets. 

‘However, if it fails to heed our recommendations the UK will not reap the significant benefits of better air quality and will lag in the slow lane for tackling climate change.’

On the used EV market, the report suggests the government looks at schemes implemented in Scotland and the Netherlands to boost second hand electric car sales.

In Scotland, buyers were able to apply for an interest-free five year loan on EVs costing £30k on less. Some 1,244 people took it up between 2021 and 2023, but the scheme has now closed due to high demand. In the Netherlands grants of €2,000 are available for used EVs.

The report added: ‘The government should review the schemes that other countries, including Scotland and the Netherlands have implemented to incentivise the purchase of second-hand EVs, evaluate their outcomes and explore whether similar schemes could be offered in England and Wales.

‘Consumer confidence in the second-hand market is also currently being undermined by uncertainty and concerns about EV battery health. 

‘We welcome industry’s work to develop a “battery health standard” that would give confidence to consumers. The government should accelerate its collaboration with industry to develop [this].’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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