“Redouble efforts to support electric vehicle market” says SMMT president

SMMT president Dr George Gillespie OBE has called for “decisive action” to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the UK.

As the automotive sector accelerates the introduction of zero-emission vehicles, despite supply shortages, the industry body has called for a redoubling of efforts to improve charging infrastructure and enhance UK competitiveness for the electric vehicle market.

According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a third of British made cars are now electrified, with more plug-in vehicles expected to be registered this year than in the last decade combined.

However, SMMT president and chairman Dr George Gillespie OBE believes that if the sector – and society – is to achieve net zero on the back of British manufacturing, then some key challenges must be met.

Speaking at the 104th SMMT Annual Dinner, he said: “We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero emission capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now. We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist. It is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes. This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.”

In order to hit the governments target of decarbonizing cars and vans by 2035, the industry body says long-term strategies are needed to address high energy prices, uncompetitive business rates and additional trade costs compared to its competitors in Europe.

It adds that “close collaboration between industry and government will be critical” if the industry is to remain internationally competitive.

Dr Gillespie continued, “We need access to skilled staff. We need free access to markets. We need the right government incentives to develop new technologies and continue to lead the world and help to deal with rising transport and energy costs.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, added: “This industry does ‘delivery’. We will decarbonise road transport – cars by 2035, buses likely earlier, HGVs likely only a bit later. But as electric vehicle sales race ahead, on-street charging infrastructure is increasing slowly. We look to government to create the conditions – maybe mandate the conditions – to accelerate the infrastructure across the country as we need others to match our speed.”

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