Chris Grayling, MP Secretary of State for Transport and Epsom & Ewell unveiled an extensive 46-point plan for the UK to meet its pledge for all new vehicles to be electric by 2040 titled 'The Road to Zero'. It details a range of initiatives from investing millions in research and development to working with organisations in the industry to educate the public and train specific occupations, such as mechanics, so they are ready for the huge growth in electric vehicles.
On the plan, Grayling commented:
“This level of ambition puts the UK at the forefront of the global transition to cleaner road transport. Petrol and diesel vehicles have dominated the market for over a century and still account for more than 99% of global sales. But change has arrived: sales of ultra low emission vehicles are increasing rapidly and countries, regions and cities across the world have announced long-term plans for cleaner road transport.
By some estimates, ultra low emission vehicles will make up over half of global car sales by 2040. The transition will mean fundamental changes to the global automotive market, worth over £1.5 trillion a year, and new opportunities for the UK.”
We've picked out some highlights from the 147 page document which you can read in full here. The best news for drivers looking to make the switch now is that plug-in grants for cars, vans, taxis and motorcycles will be extended to at least 2020. They will be maintained at their current rates of £4,500 towards a fully electric car; £2,500 towards a plug-in hybrid (under £60,000) and £1,500 towards electric motorbikes and mopeds until at least October 2018.
In terms of planning for the future, £246 million will be invested in next generation battery technology research through the Faraday Battery Challenge. This represents part of the biggest increase in public investment in Research & Development (R&D) in the UK's history. Alongside this research, a £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will be launched to help accelerate infrastructure deployment across the country to ensure that chargepoints are available at all motorway service stations and large fuel retailers.
Plans haven't just been made with regards to charging a vehicle on the move. As part of the Road To Zero, any new house builds, where appropriate, will have to be electric vehicle ready, meaning that a chargepoint should be available in applicable locations. Furthermore, all new street lighting columns will include charge points, where appropriately located, in areas with current on-street parking to future proof UK streets and assist with the charging infrastructure for the country.
Finally, in an attempt to lead by example, the Government are committing to making 25% of their central Government car fleet ultra low emission by 2022 with a further commitment to 100% of that same car fleet being ultra low emission by 2030.
One decision not included in the plan is the continued sale of hybrid cars after lobbying from car manufacturers including Toyota. They argue that most journeys are fairly short and that it doesn't make sense to carry a battery that is capable of making a 200-mile trip on a single charge.
These proposals have been seen by the AA and other motoring organisations as "a step in the right direction" in an attempt to increase electric car sales from 5.5% of the UK's new car market in the first six months of 2018 with an awareness that there is still a long way to go before drivers move away from traditional diesel and petrol cars.