Union urges government to up its game over electric car industry and warns of threat to jobs

Time 1 year ago

The Unite union has called on the government to urgently invest in EV infrastructure instead of adopting measures it says could affect jobs in the UK

Britain and Ireland’s largest union was reacting to today’s SMMT report that says the government needs to accelerate the take-up of electric vehicles after a new poll suggested buyers think the 2035 ban on pure petrols and diesels is too soon, as reported by Car Dealer.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: ‘This report demonstrates beyond doubt that the government has got to up its game in supporting the development and purchasing of electric vehicles.


‘First and foremost, support needs to be provided for all UK automotive manufacturers to be building electric vehicles in the UK. Giving tax breaks and discounts to electric models made overseas is ultimately self-defeating and could affect UK jobs.

‘It is absolutely imperative that the government urgently enacts a comprehensive programme of investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, including expanding the network of fast charging points.’

He added: ‘Until drivers are reassured that they can recharge their cars when they need to and they won’t be left stranded miles from home, sales of electric vehicles will not increase significantly.

‘The prime minister has promised to build, build, build and this is a project which will create jobs, develop skills and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint in the long term.

“Finally, it is vital that the cart is not put before the horse. Realistically, we remain some way from the mass roll-out of electric cars. In the meantime, incentives need to be provided for the purchase of the cleanest new car models.

‘This will provide UK car makers with the financial resources and the confidence to invest in the future development of electric vehicles in the UK.’

He was backed by Institute of the Motor Industry chief executive Steve Nash, who said: ‘Unite quite rightly highlights the critical issue of infrastructure for widespread electric vehicle adoption, in response to the SMMT’s latest report.

‘As the IMI has stated repeatedly, the government also needs to focus attention on ensuring the right skills are in place across the automotive aftermarket sector, so that electric vehicles can be handled safely by automotive workers, in turn giving motorists confidence in this new technology.’

Nash added: ‘As we advance towards a zero-emission future, the technology that technicians will be coming into contact with on a daily basis is changing – resulting in high-voltage electrics becoming commonplace.

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‘Motorists driving electrified vehicles want to know that they are handing over their vehicle to someone who has the right skills. Those who aren’t properly trained or equipped to work on electrified vehicles would be risking serious injury or a potentially fatal shock.’

He said that the IMI’s TechSafe standards, which were endorsed last year by the cross-government Office for Low Emission Vehicles, meant that electrified vehicle users could access the IMI Professional Register to check the EV competencies of technicians at their local garage.

‘This is a crucial step in giving car buyers confidence that their electric vehicle can be serviced, maintained and repaired by a garage with the right skills – and that removes a key barrier to EV adoption.

‘But it’s also important that the government looks at investment in skills training to support a sector that is currently severely depleted by Covid-19, to ensure its zero-emissions goals can be achieved.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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