THE Government could bring forward its ban on new fossil fuel vehicles from 2040 to 2030 to help speed up the rollout of electric vehicles across British roads.
The Guardian newspaper reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles this autumn with an announcement to help trigger a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The move follows assurances that the UK’s infrastructure will be ready to cope with the shift to electric cars.
The plan, which is backed by the government’s official advisers at the Committee on Climate Change, is likely to emerge alongside the national plans to become a carbon-neutral economy by the middle of the century.
Graeme Cooper, the director in charge of National Grid’s electric vehicle project, told the Guardian that fears over the UK electricity grid’s ability to cope with a boom in electric vehicle charging were unfounded.
He said the grid operator was “confident that a faster transition is possible” and that it is “suitably robust” to cope with a rise in electricity demand.
The National Grid estimates that electrifying all road transport, aside from heavy goods vehicles, would require less than a third more energy than current demand.
Ian Johnston, CEO of EV charging business Engenie said that a 2030 ban would represent a decisive step in the right direction.
He added: “Now it’s time for meaningful action. Over the next decade, the private sector must continue its work to ramp up rapid charging infrastructure across the UK to give drivers the confidence to make the switch to electric.
“In return, the government must commit to supporting infrastructure in rural areas where private investment models are not able to support. By doing so, we can not only meet this target, but surpass it.”
Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles said that a 2030 ban on internal combustion engines is needed to solidify the UKs focus on both climate change and clean air, demonstrating global leadership.
“EVs already make environmental and financial sense. They are fantastic to drive, are good for the planet, and surprisingly affordable – with drivers even being paid to charge their car sometimes.
“As a supply-led market, it’s critical that the government gets behind a target like this to signal to car manufacturers that petrol and diesel vehicles are no longer welcome on our roads. The next decade is pivotal for us in leaving a healthy planet for our kids, and their kids.”
However, Matthew Walters, head of consultancy services at LeasePlan UK said that while plans to bring forward the ban on new fossil fuel vehicles are suitably ambitious, the Government still needs to address the elephant in the room.
He said: “What happens to EV supply post Brexit? We need urgent answers from the Government on what will happen to the continuity of EV supply shipments when trade tariffs are introduced. We must ensure that the UK still keeps its place at the table.”
Steve Nash, Chief Executive of the IMI warned that accelerated date for ban could put motorists and automotive workers at serious risk
He said: “Apparently there are assurances that the infrastructure will be ready by this date. But there is so much more to consider than simply the charging infrastructure.
“Indeed, in some ways the charging network issue is relatively simple to resolve…it just needs investment, and rather a lot of it! However, we won’t get the network we need if the government leaves it largely to private businesses to solve the problem, as it has done up to now. The investments made by our government are paltry compared to other countries.
“But I worry that a much bigger piece of the jigsaw has been forgotten. What about the technicians to service and repair this new automotive technology which, in turn, will give motorists the essential confidence they need?
“The automotive sector has seen – much like many other industries – massive falls in sales over the last 6 months as a result of COVID-19. Right now, therefore, the appetite for recruitment and training is low as recent data attests. Yet training of the existing workforce on these new drivetrains, as well as recruitment of the next generation of workers is vital.
“The latest Department for Education data shows that Apprenticeship starts in the Automotive sector in July 2020 fell by 59% compared to the same period in 2019. And the latest
“ONS data shows that approximately 2% of jobs in the sector have been made permanently redundant with potentially an additional 7,200 planned before the end of September. Further underlying the financial pressures facing the automotive sector, over half (56%) stated that COVID-19 had increased the risk of insolvency of their business; an increase of 3% since last reporting.
“Against this backdrop, and with so much of the country waiting to hear if new restrictions may impact business income further, does it really make sense to heap the pressure on an already beleaguered sector?
“As we advance towards a zero-emission future, the technology that technicians will be coming into contact with is changing – resulting in high voltage electrics becoming commonplace.
“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 potentially fatal shock. The IMI TechSafe™ standards, endorsed by OLEV at the end of 2019, mean that electrified vehicle users can access the IMI Professional Register to check the electric vehicle technical 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 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.”