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IMechE report highlights the need for more support for electric transition

The UK Government needs to provide more incentives to consumers to buy electric cars, as well as provide greater support to vehicle manufacturers, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

In its report ‘UK Automotive Sector: Surviving the Net Zero Transition’, the Institution recommends measures to overcome the challenges faced by the industry which generates revenues of almost £80 billion each year, employs nearly a million people and provides highly skilled jobs in economically deprived areas.

The Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate requires car manufacturers to sell a rising percentage of electric vehicles each year from 2024. However, the report argues this will only drive a successful transition if there are other measures in place to make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers.

Charger

The report’s recommendations include having mandated targets set by central Government to boost the number of electric vehicle charging points, with programmes to measure what works at local level. Given the delay of the 2030 ban on diesel and petrol vehicles, the Government should consider underwriting the investment risk of charge point providers.

Support for manufacturers needs to increase to create a level playing field, otherwise, the UK risks importing most electric vehicles currently made here, with many coming from new market entrants such as China. It has been estimated that to provide equivalent support to the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act would amount to a £64 billion outlay by the UK Government between now and 2030.

Part of this support is creating the right conditions for volume battery production in the UK, including enabling funding, supply chain development, securing and processing of critical minerals. This should include incentivising local clusters around each factory to develop supply chains for other key parts of electric vehicles, not just batteries.

Terry Spall, Past President of the Institution and co-author of the report, said:  “Though activity levels have been increasing, the UK is behind the curve as it progresses its transition to a zero-emission fleet and Net Zero goals. Many significant hurdles have yet to be effectively addressed and the UK’s future competitive position as a global vehicle manufacturing nation is at stake.

“It is not too late to save the industry and this report presents a plan to do so. Targeted strategic interventions will allow one of the UK’s globally iconic industries to survive and thrive in a future where road transport must transform to be smarter and completely decarbonised.”

It is not too late to save the industry and this report presents a plan to do so. Targeted strategic interventions will allow one of the UK’s globally iconic industries to survive and thrive in a future where road transport must transform to be smarter and completely decarbonised.

Terry Spall, Past President of the Institution

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers recommends the following support for electric vehicle roll-out:

  • A holistic approach to incentivisation of BEV private purchase, whether users have access to domestic charging or have to rely on public charging. Private buyers making the transition to a BEV should not be economically disadvantaged when compared with petrol or diesel.

  • Boost electric chargepoint deployment. There need to be mandated targets from the central government and programmes for measuring what works at a local level should be developed between local governments and researchers, with the central Government learning from best practices and adjusting policy accordingly over time. To ensure charge point delivery continues apace in the light of the delay of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel sales, the Government should consider underwriting the investment risk of the charge point providers.

The full ‘UK Automotive Sector: Surviving the Net Zero Transition’ report can be downloaded here: IMechE Road Transport Report.pdf

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