CEO Update

EV transition not up for debate

07 June 2024 #CEO Update

The first TV leaders’ debate dominated front pages this week and, with the general election now less than a month away, focus is inevitably on the policies all political parties are putting forward. What is not up for debate is the importance of measures to support the UK’s shift to zero emission transport. Whomever forms the next government, they inherit a statutory commitment to deliver net zero and the decarbonisation of road transport – the biggest emitting sector – will be essential to delivering that goal and tackling climate change.

Fundamental to this will be boosting uptake of the latest electric vehicles. New vehicle registration figures issued on Wednesday by SMMT revealed growth in battery electric uptake in both the van and car sectors, although, at 4.2% and 17.6% market shares respectively, we’re still some way off the 10% and 22% mandated by the Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme for this year.

Manufacturers are doing all they can to drive demand, offering a plethora of model choice in every vehicle segment and compelling discounts – discounts which cannot be sustained indefinitely given the sheer amount of investment that must yet be made.

A faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks, which is why we’re calling for the next government to provide private consumers with meaningful purchase incentives. Action on tax, for example, including temporarily halving VAT on new BEV purchases and cutting the VAT levied on public charging in line with domestic use would drive up demand, putting more than a quarter of a million EVs on the road instead of petrol or diesel cars over the next three years. It goes without saying that the current grant for new electric vans must be maintained, while a strategy to roll out more van-suitable charging infrastructure would help boost operator confidence.

The challenges of transforming a sector built on more than a century of ICE technology were front and centre at SMMT Regional Forum in Liverpool on Tuesday, with global brands, local suppliers and media, including the BBC, descending on the city to discuss ways in which the industry can secure growth to drive jobs and prosperity across the North West. The region is critical to the future success of the entire UK auto industry and I want to thank everyone involved with the event, including delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and staff.

Our next event is the International Automotive Summit, taking place on Tuesday 25 June just a week before the nation heads to the polls. Speakers include David Moss, Senior Vice President, Region Research & Development at Nissan Motor Manufacturing; Michael Leiters, CEO, McLaren Automotive; and Anna Westerberg, President of Volvo Buses. Book your ticket here.

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