Lords Committee report reveals that the UK’s EV strategy needs a ‘rapid recharge’

Lords Committee report reveals that the UK’s EV strategy needs a ‘rapid recharge’
A House of Lords Committee has published a new report on the current state of the electric car (EV) industry, where they announced that urgent changes are needed for the UK to meet its legally binding net zero emissions targets.

The Environment and Climate Change Committee published its 'EV strategy: rapid recharge needed' report, where they noted that although progress had been made, it was not happening fast enough.

Although the Government has committed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, it is the view of the committee that more is needed to reach these targets.

In December 2023, the Government updated the Zero Emission Vehicles mandate, requiring all manufacturers who operate in the UK that they need to sell an increasing proportion of EVs each year.

Alongside this, the report acknowledged there had been some progress in the rollout of the UK’s charging infrastructure and the recent publication of strategies to enhance UK innovation and manufacturing.

However, the ‘rapid recharge’ needed to start immediately, with several issues that need to be addressed by both the Government and wider industry leaders.

However, progress is not happening fast enough, and major barriers remain.

The Government’s report stated that there are six main issues facing the EV sector:

  • EVs make up about only 3% of all cars currently on UK roads
  • EVs are still more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts
  • The availability of public charge points across the UK is highly variable
  • Drivers’ anxiety over EV charge reliability and affordability
  • Lack of clear communication and leadership from the Government
  • The scale of misinformation and lack of tackling this from Government and industry

The EV Strategy report stated that a ‘go-to source of comprehensive, clear, and balanced information is urgently required.

As a result, consumers will likely be able to make more informed decisions about their future vehicle purchases.

Furthermore, the report summarised that the Government ‘must now seize the opportunity it has given itself’ and then publish a roadmap through 2035 where it makes a clear statement how to reach its targets.

What were the key recommendations from the Government Committee?

Following the conclusion of the Committee’s findings into the state of the electric vehicle market, they made a list of suggestions for the Government to consider.

  • Tackle the disparity in upfront costs between electric and petrol and diesel cars, by introducing targeted grants to support consumers buying affordable models.
  • Turbo-charge the charging infrastructure rollout by reviewing outdated and disproportionate planning regulations, and tackling delays in the rollout of key public funding programmes.
  • Ensure charging is reasonably priced, convenient, and reliable by equalising VAT rates for domestic and public charging.
  • Invest in UK recycling to ensure that recycling is undertaken by responsible operators, and that the UK is able to recoup as many of the critical materials contained in EV batteries as possible for its own domestic production.

The Committee now awaits a response from the Government on these proposals.

Following the release of the report, the Chair of the inquiry, Baroness Parminter, said: “Surface transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector for CO2, with passenger cars responsible for over half those emissions.

“The evidence we received shows the Government must do more – and quickly – to get people to adopt EVs. If it fails to heed our recommendations the UK won’t reap the significant benefits of better air quality and will lag in the slow lane for tackling climate change.”

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We welcome this important and far-reaching report from the House of Lords and urge the Government to take the recommendations it makes seriously.

“We have long argued that mass uptake of EVs – which is the Government’s aim – depends on prices falling to make them the natural choice for more people, so we are particularly pleased to see the Committee supporting the introduction of targeted grants for new electric cars, aimed at the more affordable end of the market.

“We believe the UK was too hasty in scrapping the plug-in car grant as it did lead to more lower-priced models being introduced. Without further financial support, it will be a long time before the majority of drivers will be able to afford to make the switch to electric.

“The Committee rightly acknowledges the important role the 2023 Public Charge Point Regulations will play in ensuring drivers benefit from good quality public charging infrastructure in the future, and we’re pleased to see its suggestion that elements of the UK’s first Public Charging Charter – which we developed alongside the FairCharge campaign – could form the basis of a future review of them.

“The unequivocal support for VAT to be charged at the same 5% rate whether a driver is charging at home or at a public charger also now piles yet more pressure on the Treasury to correct this bizarre anomaly. As things stand, the current mismatched VAT rates are an unnecessary barrier to switching to an electric car for the estimated third of people who can’t charge an EV at home and who wholly rely on the public charging network.

“We very much look forward to the Government’s response to this report and its explanation of what else it is going to do to ensure as many drivers are able to benefit from running an electric car as possible.”

What is being done to help the rollout of EV charge points?

The Government has announced new measures to support current and future EV drivers from the government’s Plan for Drivers.

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne, launched a new grant providing up to 75% of the cost to buy and install chargepoints at schools, up to £2,500 per socket, up from the previous £350.

Paid for by the Department for Transport, the grant forms part of the Workplace Charging Scheme and is available for state-funded schools, colleges, nurseries and academies.

Also, this could also help schools to generate revenue by making their charge points available to the public for a fee.

Independent schools can also make an application.

The government has announced the £381 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund. The money will support the installation of thousands of new chargers, ensuring the rollout continues at pace to support drivers in every area of the country.

Through the LEVI capability funding, almost 100 dedicated EV officers have been newly recruited to support charge point procurement across the UK.

What do you make of the report and the current state of the EV industry in the UK? Leave your comments below.

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