The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes, has responded to concerns about taxpayer funding being used to secure investment in UK electric vehicle (EV) factories. Hawes stated that government support is crucial for manufacturers and emphasized the importance of investment in both manufacturing and the market for the successful transition to EVs.
The SMMT has reported a significant increase in the market share of battery electric new cars in the UK, from 0.7% in 2018 to an anticipated 17.8% by the end of this year. However, this surge in demand has been driven primarily by fleet purchases rather than private buyers. The private share of battery electric new cars has fallen from over a third in the first half of 2022 to less than a quarter during the same period this year.
While the UK has the most ambitious timeline for banning the sales of new conventionally fueled cars and vans by 2030, with hybrids outlawed five years later, it currently lacks incentives for consumer purchases of EVs. To encourage private consumers to make the transition to EVs more quickly, Hawes called for targeted support, including reducing VAT on public charging and EV purchases, exempting EVs from the expensive car supplement in vehicle excise duty, and implementing a national plan to improve the charging network.
While a survey commissioned by the SMMT revealed that over two-thirds of non-EV drivers in the UK intend to switch to electric, only a small percentage plan to do so this year. Alex Smith, managing director of Volkswagen Group UK, attributed this stagnation in demand from private buyers to the progressive withdrawal of incentives and the perception of EVs as relatively expensive. He highlighted the importance of educating consumers on the long-term affordability of EVs in terms of operating and fueling costs.
In conclusion, the SMMT is calling for government support and targeted incentives to facilitate a fair and efficient transition to EVs in the UK. They believe that such support is not only a commercial imperative but a matter of social justice to ensure a fair transition across the country.
– Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)