MPs say Government has “no clear plan” for electric car targets

The Public Accounts Committee has said the Government has no clear plan as it faces a “huge challenge” in ensuring that all new cars are zero-emission from 2035.

In its report, the Committee said that in order for the Government to achieve its targets of banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and for all new cars to be zero-emission from 2035, consumers will need convincing of the affordability and practicality of zero-emission cars.

It cited that up-front prices are still too high for many in comparison to petrol or diesel equivalents and with just 11% of new car registrations for ultra-low emission cars in 2020 it will be a “huge challenge” to get this to 100% in the next 14 years.

The report added that the number of charging points is increasing rapidly, but many more will be required within a very short period of time in order to support the envisaged growth in electric cars in the UK, and the PAC said it is not convinced the Government is on track with this infrastructure.

Echoing its recent report on environmental taxes, which said the Treasury and HMRC seemed “stuck in a bygone era”, the Committee says DfT and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will need to do much more to consider the practical application of this large societal change, and put consumers at the heart of it.

Furthermore, the report said the Departments will need to be on top of the other consequences arising from this transition, including the impact on the skills and capabilities required to support the changeover in the UK vehicle fleet; the environmental and social implications of the switch-over both in the UK and across global supply chains; the impact on our future power needs; and the impact on the Government tax-take due to the loss of fuel duties.

It added that, to date, the Departments have no clear published plan setting out how they propose to manage these consequential impacts, who they will need to work with, and the timetables for any action. It continued to say that the onus is on the Departments to show they are on top of all the repercussions and focussed on supporting consumers to shift to electric as they work towards the government’s goal.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Committee, said: “The Government has a mountain to climb to get to all new cars in the UK emitting zero carbon in the next 14 years: to convince consumers and make the cars appealing, to make the car industry environmentally and socially compliant, to build the necessary infrastructure to support this radical shift and possibly biggest of all, to wean itself off carbon revenues. Yet once again what we’ve got is a Government throwing up a few signs around base camp – and no let-up in demand for oversized, petrol- guzzling vehicles.

“This isn’t about more targets with no plan behind them inevitably getting missed – it’s about averting the real-world challenges that are bearing down on all of us. The Government needs to get the country behind it and lead the way in the global race against climate change.”

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