WWF’s Gareth Redmond-King argues that as charging networks become more integrated ministers should be looking to accelerate the phase out of the internal combustion engine. “The first million is the hardest,” announced an email from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) last week. “It took two decades to sell the first million. The second million hit the road within 18 months.” Well, there are now three million electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads – although BNEF soberly remind us that’s out of a global fleet of around a billion cars, and each car spends an average of 12-15 years on the road. In the UK, with around 100,000 EVs, they currently account for juat 1.5 per cent of new vehicle sales. However, they’re already a big deal for us economically: one in five EVs driven in Europe was made in the UK, with ONS valuing exports at £2.5bn in 2015. And in recent weeks the sector has had a boost from several government announcements. First off the blocks, there actually wasn’t very much new in the Clean Growth Strategy, but it reasserted the government’s growing interest in growing the market. Then the budget and the UK Industrial Strategy were a little more promising, committing to “support electric vehicles through £400m charging infrastructure investment and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant”. Chancellor Philip Hammond underscored the importance of the investment when he told the House of Commons that electrifying our vehicles is “a change that needs to come as soon as possible for our planet”. “As soon as possible” currently means 2040 – that’s when the government has committed to ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. Twenty-three years is not my idea of soon. Interestingly – and encouragingly – both Transport Minister Jesse Norman and Climate Change Minister Claire Perry have hinted that it may not be their idea of soon either. Norman acknowledged that “radical changes in the market” might bring the transition about faster, whilst Perry told the BEIS Committee that “it may be possible to change that target”.
Business Green 19th Dec 2017 read more »