The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is urging the government to accelerate the take up of electric vehicles, as a new poll suggests buyers think the 2035 ban on pure petrols and diesels is too soon.
It’s calling on ministers to commit to significant long-term incentives for EV purchase, including the continuation of the plug-in grant and its reintroduction for plug-in hybrids.
The SMMT is also urging the government to set binding targets on charging infrastructure, and VAT exemptions on all zero emission capable cars.
The UK needs a £16.7bn investment into its charging network, said the SMMT, with 507 new charge points needed every day until 2035 to make buyers feel confident they will be able to charge their vehicles.
Analysis by SMMT and Frost and Sullivan also shows that a full, zero emission-capable UK new car market will require 1.7m public charge points by the end of the decade and 2.8m by 2035.
A VAT exemption would cut the price of a family car by an average of £5,500 for battery electric cars and £4,750 for plug-in hybrids, and for an SUV by £9,750 and £8,000 respectively – helping to drive 2.4m sales over the next five years.
We need carrots, not sticks, and confidence, not confusion. We need to reassure consumers, most notably about charging.
Other recommendations include government support for local authorities to overcome planning permission and the installation of rapid and ultra-rapid charging points that have credit/debit card access and/or network roaming.
The SMMT has made the calls after its new survey, compiled by Savanta ComRes confirms customers are interested in greener models with drivers most attracted to the lower running costs (41 per cent) and chance to improve the environment (29 per cent).
However, while these cars now account for one in six models on sale (17 per cent), they make up just one in 13 purchases (8 per cent).
The survey found the biggest factors holding buyers back are higher purchase prices (52 per cent), lack of local charging points (44 per cent) and fear of being caught short on longer journeys (38 per cent).
Encouragingly, a third (37 per cent) are optimistic about buying a full EV by 2025, 44 per cent don’t think they’ll be ready by 2035, with 24 per cent saying that they can’t ever see themselves owning one.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, told a press conference at its Drive Zero event yesterday: ‘Sales of EVs are picking up but they’re still a new technology, and it’s an expensive technology.
‘We need carrots, not sticks, and confidence, not confusion. We need to reassure consumers, most notably about charging.’
In a statement, the SMMT chief added the UK risks being in the ‘slow lane’ of electric car ownership without some important measures taken.
‘Car makers are leading the charge to zero emission motoring, with massive investment in new models fuelling huge consumer interest but they can’t transform the market alone,’ he said.
‘To give consumers confidence to take the leap into these technologies, we need government and other sectors to step up and match manufacturers’ commitment by investing in the incentives and infrastructure needed to power our electric future.
‘Manufacturers are working hard to make zero and ultra-low emissions the norm and are committed to working with government to accelerate the shift to net zero – but obstacles remain.
‘Until these vehicles are as affordable to buy and as easy to own and operate as conventional cars, we risk the UK being in the slow lane, undermining industry investment and holding back progress.’
Hawes spoke about the UK electric car market and other issues in a Car Dealer Live episode recently – you can watch it at the top of the story