An influential Commons select committee has called on the Government to bring in a clear and precise target for sales of new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032.
The recommendation, included in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s (BEIS) Electric Vehicles: Driving the Transition report, would replace the Government’s 2040 targets for zero emission cars, which are “vague and unambitious”.
Rachel Reeves MP, chairman of BEIS, said: “For all the rhetoric of the UK becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the Government’s deeds do not match the ambitions of its words.
“The IPCC report was clear on the need to encourage changes in consumer behaviour, including increasing the switch to electric vehicles, to help decarbonise our economy.
“But the UK Government’s targets on zero-emissions vehicles are unambitious and vague, giving little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.
“If we are serious about being EV world leaders, the Government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032.”
The report found that the poor provision of charge points is one of the greatest barriers to growing the UK EV market.
The committee called on the Government to ensure charge points are provided nationwide and help local authorities access greater technical and financial support to develop charging infrastructure across the country, including in remote and rural areas.
Reeves added: “Our EV charging infrastructure is simply not fit for purpose. We cannot expect consumers to overcome ‘range anxiety’ and switch to electric vehicles if they cannot be confident of finding convenient, reliable points to regularly charge their cars.
“The Government cannot simply will the ends and leave local government, or private companies, to deliver the means.
“The Government needs to get a grip and lead on coordinating the financial support and technical know-how necessary for local authorities to promote this infrastructure and help ensure that electric cars are an attractive option for consumers”.
The report also found the current grant system for EVs provides inconsistent messages about the Government’s ambitions for EVs and recommends that the Government align new fiscal changes with the zero emissions target.
The Government last week announced that the plug-in car grant would be cut by £1,000 to £3,500 for zero emission cars and no longer apply to hybrid cars with a range of less than 70 zero emission miles, from November 12.
It said the reduction in funding was a sign of the scheme’s success and also reflected the “recent reductions in the price of electric vehicles”.
In all, just 19 cars will be eligible for the plug-in car grant, with 20 models no longer qualifying under the new rules.
However, Reeves said the Department for Transport’s slashing of the plug-in grant scheme drives the incentives of buying an electric vehicle into reverse.
She added: “Cutting support is a perverse way to encourage drivers to move to non-polluting cars.
“This is only the latest sign of the Government’s inconsistent approach to developing the market for electric vehicles.
“The Committee on Climate Change has made clear in their judgements on the Clean Growth Strategy and the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy that these plans do not go far enough to tackle transport emissions, putting the UK’s long-term carbon reduction targets at risk.
“A more joined-up and consistent approach is needed from Government if the UK is to seize the business opportunities of electric vehicles and deliver carbon emissions reductions.”