CEO Update

August boost highlights long-term challenges facing the industry

07 September 2018 #CEO Update

August might be the second smallest month for new car registrations, but with more than 90,000 new cars joining the road last month it caught the eye as the busiest August since the switch to the current biannual plate change system. Ordinarily that would be something to get excited about, but regulatory updates disrupted usual business and it remains to be seen how September’s figures will be affected.

Those rule changes are to be welcomed, though – the new emissions certification test will ultimately give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or plug-in.

What was particularly encouraging in the August figures was the strong performance of alternatively fuelled vehicles. One in 12 cars bought last month was an AFV, setting a new record market share of 8%, proof that the billions invested by manufacturers into an ever-increasing range of ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles is paying dividends.

The challenge is not so much availability as consumer confidence. Long-term government support and continued incentives will be essential to promote further uptake – as well as investment in charging infrastructure. A coherent strategy across all stakeholders will be crucial.

It’s welcome, therefore, that the government’s Zero Emission Vehicle Summit takes place next week. It will bring together industry representatives and policymakers to discuss how to tackle carbon emissions and improve air quality. The sector is working hard to address these twin challenges, but while it can deliver the technology, it can’t determine the pace of uptake – all stakeholders must play their part, and collaboratively, to drive the transition to zero emissions.

The summit is linked to another vital low carbon vehicle event, Cenex-LCV, which takes place next week at Millbrook. The show highlights the latest domestic advances, demonstrating that Britain is still very much the place to invest as a leader in developing and deploying the next generation of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

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