The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trading has called on the government to take further actions to ease the transition from internal combustion engines to electric batteries as nearly half of UK buyers believes that the 2035 ban is still unattainable.
The SMMT believes that the government should commit to significant long-term incentives for electric vehicle purchase and binding targets on charging infrastructure, after a new survey suggests that many UK motorists don’t feel ready to make the switch by 2035.
The survey pointed out that the biggest factors holding buyers back are higher purchase prices (52%), lack of local charging points (44%) and fear of being caught short on longer journeys (38%). While, encouragingly, a third (37%) are optimistic about buying a full EV by 2025, 44% don’t think they’ll be ready by 2035, with 24% saying that they can’t ever see themselves owning one.
Clearly, the research done by SMMT hasn’t highlighted anything new as some of these concerns have been there since the dawn of the electric vehicle technology. However, they do believe that more can be done to help buyers change their minds.
Even though this survey has highlighted the general concern of the population, a lot of improvements have recently been made in the electric vehicle world. EVs are rapidly growing in popularity, with demand more than doubling over the last year thanks to massive industry investment worth some £54 billion in 2019 alone. Over the last 12 months, the number of plug-in hybrid and full electric models has leapt from 62 to 83, with more scheduled for launch in the coming months.
If we look at the facts, there are multiple companies that are building a wide and reliable charging infrastructure. Many OEMs are pledging billions to EV technologies and the price of electric batteries keeps dropping, therefore making the technology more affordable every day.
However, the SMMT believes that in order to bolster this process the government should have a long-term commitment to incentives, including the continuation of the Plug-in Grant and its re-introduction for plug-in hybrids – a technology critical to the transition, giving higher mileage drivers reassuring flexibility and delivering environmental benefits now.
This commitment, alongside VAT exemptions for all zero-emission capable cars, would reduce the upfront price of a family car by an average £5,500 for battery electric cars and £4,750 for plug-in hybrids, and for an SUV by £9,750 and £8,000 respectively – vital given the high cost of producing this advanced new technology.
The car manufacturers are making the first important step in this all-electric revolution, but they need the support of the government to make it happen, according to Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.
“Car makers are leading the charge to zero emission motoring, with massive investment in new models fuelling huge consumer interest but they can’t transform the market alone,” he said. “To give consumers confidence to take the leap into these technologies, we need government and other sectors to step up and match manufacturers’ commitment by investing in the incentives and infrastructure needed to power our electric future.”
The government has already taken significant steps to support this emerging market. Purchase grants worth more than £1.7 billion have been paid out or budgets earmarked from 2011 to 2023, alongside £500 million committed to the Project Rapid motorway charging network and a £200 million investment fund for public charging network expansion.
However, there is still a lot to do as in order to sustain a zero emission UK car market the country requires at least 1.7 million public charge points by the end of the decade and 2.8 million by 2035. Given that there are only 19,314 on-street charge points today, there is a daunting task ahead as 507 on-street chargers need to be installed every day until 2035 at a cost of £16.7 billion to have a wide and reliable infrastructure.