The Road to Zero emissions took centre stage yesterday as SMMT unveiled a blueprint to deliver greater retail uptake of the latest electric vehicles, with new figures showing businesses are twice as likely as consumers to make the switch from petrol or diesel. The call came at SMMT Electrified, which saw industry, government and wider stakeholders come together at our first ever conference dedicated purely to electrification.
In the year that the UK hosts COP 26, and with the country on track to phase out sale of new conventionally powered cars and vans in 2030, measures to ensure an electric revolution that is affordable, achievable and accessible to all by that date have to be taken now.
Manufacturers are committed to the consumer, reducing costs and providing as wide a choice as possible of zero-emission capable vehicles with many more to come. Government and other stakeholders should now put ordinary drivers at the heart of policy and planning.
We need incentives that tempt consumers, not just businesses, infrastructure that is robust and charging points that provide reassurance, so that zero-emission mobility will be possible for everyone, regardless of income or location.
Moreover, our global leadership in internal combustion engine car and van production must be transferred to electric vehicle manufacturing – and fast. February UK car production fell by -14.0% – the 18th consecutive month of decline – as the sector continues to grapple with showroom closures, new customs processes and global supply chain constraints – most notably of which has been shortages of semi-conductors.
The automotive sector can play a crucial part in getting the UK back on its feet as we come out of lockdown, supporting jobs across the country, driving growth and helping the country transition to zero emission mobility.
However, as well as focusing on the market, we need to make the UK the most attractive destination to invest in zero emission technologies. Stimulating investment, creating battery gigafactories, transforming the supply chain, upskilling our world-renowned workforce and creating the conditions that make manufacturing competitive.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported SMMT Electrified, especially all the manufacturers who provided vehicles for our parade, staff and event partners Tata Consultancy Services, BYD Europe B.V. and Auto Trader.