CEO Update

A green future depends on realistic ambitions

19 October 2018 #CEO Update

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee of the House of Commons has this week called for the government’s proposed 2040 target for ending the sale of conventional powertrains to be brought forward to 2032.

The 2040 target is challenging enough; but to achieve market-wide penetration of zero emission vehicles by 2032 is virtually impossible without a massive upgrade to the national charging infrastructure and the reinstatement of a world-class package of incentives to encourage uptake of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The BEIS Committee target would need appetite for pure electric cars to grow by some 17,000% in just over a decade at a time when these vehicles make up just 0.6% of the market. There is a now a clear gap between government rhetoric on moving to alternatively fuelled transport and practical policy.

The automotive industry has already invested billions in a full range of ultra-low and zero emission technology, and will continue to do so, but it needs the right conditions and realistic ambitions if shared goals on improving air quality and tackling climate change are to be met.

Industry is also investing in other areas, including technological solutions as part of the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge, which took place in east London this week. This event has been designed to boost innovation and give a platform to startups and other enterprises with new ideas that will push the industry forward.

Proposals from tech startups were invited and then whittled down, with 49 shortlisted teams from 94 entries given the opportunity to put their ideas to representatives from BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Bosch, Ford and Toyota in a Dragon’s Den-style process. Our judges were much more approachable, of course, but ideas ran the whole range from intelligent fleet solutions to how we can use blockchain and augmented reality to bring new and exciting features to vehicles.

This vibrant new event highlighted the scale of ambition and the exciting new innovations we can look forward to – if the conditions for investment in the UK remain attractive. Needless to say the lack of progress at this week’s EU Council meeting was massively disappointing and extremely worrying. Time is running out and no deal is not an option. We need frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner else the damage to the industry on both sides of the channel could be significant and irrevocable.

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