The Government has launched its Road to Zero Strategy, unveiling a series of measures to put the UK at the forefront of a global motoring industry which is estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion per year by 2050.
As part of these commitments and the previously announced Air Quality Plan, the Government seeks to ensure 50-70% of new cars and 40% of new vans will be made up of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) by 2030.
Since 2009 the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has classified ULEVs as those cars and vans with emissions of less than 75kg/km of CO2. In recognition of technological advancements, only vehicles emitting less than 50g/km can be classified as ULEVs from year 2021.
Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “We are expecting our economy and society to experience profound change, which is why we have marked the future of mobility as one of the four grand challenges as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.
“The Road to Zero Strategy sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero-emission revolution - ensuring that the UK has cleaner air, a better environment and a stronger economy.”
As well as the aforementioned ULEV targets, plans include an increase to Workplace Charging Scheme grants, from £300 per socket to 75% of the charge-point's purchase and installation costs (capped at a maximum of £500 per socket).
Additional measures include the ban of conventional petrol and diesel vehicle sales by 2040, and provision of support for "massive roll-out of infrastructure" for electric vehicles.
The proposals include measures to:
• Encourage EV chargers to be installed in new-build homes and new lampposts wherever appropriate, facilitating a significant expansion of the plug-in network
• Introduce a £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund to provide support to new and existing companies that produce and install EV charge-points
• Launch a new £40m programme to develop innovative solutions for low-cost and wireless on-street charging technology
• Provide a £500 Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme incentive for electric vehicle owners to install a charge-point in their home
• Extend existing Plug-in Car and Van Grants in at least form until at least 2020, enabling motorists to make a saving when purchasing a new EV
• Convene an Electric Vehicle Energy Task Force to allow energy and automotive industries to accommodate the increased demand on energy infrastructure resulting from electric vehicle uptake
The Road to Zero Strategy is 'technology neutral', meaning the Government will not speculate on which technologies will help to deliver overall strategy objectives. There are, for example, no plans to ban hybrid vehicles or other technologies.
David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster, said: “We welcome the Government’s continued support for electric vehicles, which are already enabling zero-emission motoring for over 150,000 drivers in the UK.
“We are very pleased to see the continued focus on supporting home charging, as well as an increase in the Workplace Charging Scheme, and a commitment to encourage the installation of charging infrastructure in new developments, which will cost less than retrofitting it in the future.”
Gerry Keaney, chief executive at BVRLA, voiced concerns, however. “The increased grant available through the Workplace Charging Scheme will encourage more companies to install charge points, however, we are still concerned about the cost and complications that fleet operators wanting to install EV infrastructure face when trying to arrange planning permission or deal with local distribution network operators.
“It is critical that the right incentives are in place to support this strategy. Fleets invest billions of pounds on new cars, vans and trucks each year and a significant portion of this purchasing power stands ready to bring thousands more plug-in electric vehicles on to the UK’s roads. This can only happen if they are given the right supporting environment to deliver a managed transition away from petrol and diesel engines.
"As a start we are calling on the Chancellor to accelerate the introduction of the 2% Company Car Tax band for zero-emission vehicles. This tax band is currently scheduled to increase over the next two years to a high of 16% in 2019/20, before dropping to 2% the year after.
“We know from our latest sustainability study that those taking cash allowances emit an average of 145g/km of CO2 compared to lease car drivers who emit an average of 114g/km CO2. Company cars are cleaner, and government can have a quick win by creating a tax system that incentivises the uptake of company cars, rather than driving people towards cash allowances.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "The incentives offered to drivers to buy a new, cleaner vehicle also needs to be looked at. Changes to the car tax system last year arguably made it less attractive to buy a plug-in hybrid vehicle - which is odd, given the government's recognition that these vehicles are a crucial stepping stone to an all-electric vehicle.
"There is a strong argument for looking at new incentives to help make the purchase price as comparable to similar sized conventional equivalents - perhaps by way of a VAT discount or even an exemption on them.
"New charging technologies also have a big role to play - and it is pleasing to see the government has seen the role that street lights can play in offering charging infrastructure."