Policy Impacts

Where policy meets reality in the low-carbon transport revolution

Posted on 03 March 2020
By Michael Byrne
Michael Byrne
Head of Marketing and Insight

Michael worked in a number of diverse industries prior to joining npower Business Solutions (nBS) as a Product Manager in 2007. In 2012, Michael moved into nBS’ Marketing Team, which he currently leads as Head of Marketing and Insight. As the leader of the marketing function, Michael has key involvement in strategic marketing practices including digital marketing management, brand and social media, market intelligence and customer communications. Through his thorough grasp of industry developments, Michael ensures his team and the wider business are suitably positioned to meet the needs of business customers.

The government wants the way we travel to change dramatically over the coming decades. But can the market adapt quickly enough to meet the goals being set?

In order to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050, the government is now planning to fast forward the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2035 – and possibly even to 2032.

It’s also been confirmed that hybrid vehicles will also be included in the forthcoming ban.

This will be a blow to many manufacturers who’ve invested heavily in developing hybrid models as a stepping stone for consumers switching from petrol to fully electric.

EVs to jump from 1.6% to 100% of sales in 15 years

Despite sales of electric vehicles (EVs) growing dramatically, they still only account for around 1.6% of all new car sales.

So to increase this to 100% in just 15 years is no small feat.

It will also require more development in the necessary infrastructure to support this shift.

Already, the number of public charging points has surpassed petrol stations – data cited by charging firm Zap-Map showed 13,688 across 8,546 locations throughout the UK, versus 8,400 petrol stations.

And overall, there are more than 210,000 UK charging points, up from just 3,500 six years ago.

70% of drivers still put off EVs

But despite this, research by Confused.com has found that 70% of drivers are discouraged from buying an EV due to a perceived lack of charging points.

There is also the practical issue that charging an EV – even on rapid charge – can still take a minimum of half an hour, versus the few minutes it takes to fill up a car with petrol.

Within the industry, there are also concerns about having sufficient supply of EVs to meet demand, with What Car? reporting that some models are already delayed due to battery shortages.

Huge challenge for motoring industry

Speaking about the new timeline for banning petrol/diesel cars, the Automobile Association’s President, Edmund King has said “…these stretched targets are incredibly challenging".

The RAC's Head of Policy, Nicholas Lyes agrees: “Manufacturers face a great challenge in switching their production from conventional engines to cleaner electric technology. More electric vehicles will also require a great deal of investment in charging infrastructure – particularly for those who rely on on-street parking outside their homes."

New incentives to come?

To encourage more uptake of EVs, it’s likely we’ll see ongoing or even new incentives for making the switch.

The government is due to publish an Energy White Paper to set out more specifics on how it plans to support the UK in reaching the net zero goal.

There is also a Budget set for later this month, which may include related measures.

So it will be interesting to see if more detail emerges (and we will, of course, keep you posted).

Next week, we will be featuring a guest blog from Energy UK, which will share more on the 14-step plan it proposes the government take into account to support the shift to a net zero economy.

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