In the government’s grand vision, by 2035, the country’s roads would be dominated by pure-electric and potentially even hydrogen fuelled vehicles while the national gravitation towards motoring sustainability would be the catalyst for a “green industrial revolution”, which, according to Johnson would “create, support, and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050”.
On paper, the passion with which the government is addressing e-mobility (evident in the injection of £1.3 billion into the expansion of Britain’s charging network, and similarly huge investments into battery technology development), should place the UK at the forefront of the global reshuffle towards electric vehicles.
In comparison, the EU parliament announced in February 2023 that they would preclude the sale of all petrol and diesel engine vehicles in all member states from 2035. However, recent developments and harsh realities are exposing the government’s plan for what it increasingly seems to be: a fantasy.
Although the demand for electric vehicles has never been more ravenous, with a total of 252,000 EVs being registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2022 (up 102% from the previous year), the country’s appetite for electrification is likely to be starved by grossly insufficient rates of installation of new charging points.
To satisfy the government’s desire to ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles from 2030, it has been predicted that the UK will require approximately 300,000 charging points in locations scattered across the country by the same year. Currently, the UK’s charging network stands at only 37,000 strong, which, if the rate of installation remains constant, will only reach 106,000 by 2030, a mere shadow of the actual number required.
Even despite the recent £56 million in funding that the government has committed towards accelerating the creation of new charging point sites, the lack of any mandatory targets (especially when considering that vehicle manufacturers are forced to think in 7-year cycles) to incentivise greater haste and urgency is casting extreme doubt over whether the UK’s charging infrastructure will be able to accommodate the soaring influx of electric vehicles.
Further exacerbating the matter is that the establishment of new charging point locations is by no means uniform, with infrastructure remaining relatively scarce outside of the major cities. This puts those living in rural areas at a severe disadvantage, as it is considerably more difficult for them to justify making the transition away from petrol or diesel when the nightmare of hour-long charging queues continues to haunt them.
The cost of living crisis has also frustrated the government’s plans as, aside from significant rises in the cost of electricity, average households are less willing to draw out the sums necessary to afford the premium attached to EVs with the threat of inflation looming and the thickening mist of economic uncertainty.
Thus, even though it is true that advancements in battery and manufacturing technology are conspiring to make the slope to e-mobility shallower, for many, the door remains closed, particularly now the government has ended the grant scheme that previously lowered the financial barriers to electricity. All these factors have melded to decrease enthusiasm in electric vehicles in the UK by two thirds according to Auto Trader.
Many industry leaders have also berated the government, claiming their ambitions are unrealistic and unlikely to be achieved by the deadline set. Vertu Motors CEO Robert Forrester stated in a tweet that “The ban on ICE vehicles in the UK in 2030 will have to move back five or 10 years. It is a question of when not if”. The view of Paul Hendy, the boss of Hendy Group, is similarly bleak: “Quite frankly, the infrastructure won’t be there. It might be in some cities, but I can’t see it. But who is going to be brave enough to stop it?”.
The most obvious answer to this question is that no manufacturer or industry representative will be willing to see the government’s premature deadline deferred even if doing so would alleviate some of the time constraints. This is because the intention to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 has already managed to garner a considerable amount of support from within both political and industry circles, in which any attempt to stifle this could therefore be interpreted as a deliberate sabotage of green policies for the sake of convenience and profit.
Additionally, due to the 7-year life cycles of production models, many manufacturers have already revised their agendas to complement the government’s time limits.
Nevertheless, this does not distract from the fact that roughly two thirds of the motoring industry professionals at the Car Dealer Live conference voiced their belief that the government’s 2030 deadline could not be achieved. Therefore, to prevent any delays, it is imperative that communication and cooperation between the government, manufacturers, and the motoring industry increases.
It is also clear that the government themselves will have to address the issue of charging point shortages more seriously and expedite the rate at which new infrastructure is being installed to ensure that e-mobility remains feasible for the entire country and not just those living in cities and urban areas. The number of affordable electric models also needs to increase so that those households who are forced to be more conscious of their spendings and operate on a tighter budget are not left out. As a result, while the government’s current deadline is not impossible to meet, it is up to both politicians and industry experts to decide the best course of action moving forwards.
Have you made the switch to electric or are you considering doing so in the future? We have a huge range of EV’s to choose from online from a wide range of manufacturers including Mercedes, Tesla, Audi and Volkswagen. If you’re not quote ready to make the jump into electric, why not consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid?