The auto industry in Britain is urging the government to provide tax breaks or other incentives to encourage consumers to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) amid concerns that enthusiasm for EVs is dwindling. The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, but has reduced incentives for buyers just as consumer worries about affordability and charging infrastructure have increased.
Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), stated that while EV makers have made significant progress, more public support is needed to reach the 2030 target. Fleet managers and businesses have been driving much of the market’s growth, with private consumer sales declining from a third to a quarter of total sales.
The government’s decision to cut the Plug-in Car Grant has left Britain as the only major European market without consumer EV incentives, despite having the most ambitious transition timeline. A recent survey revealed that only 9% of British motorists plan to purchase an EV as their next vehicle, with concerns over cost, energy prices, charging infrastructure, and range anxiety cited as key barriers.
Automakers are working to convince consumers that although the initial cost of EVs may be higher, the operating and fuel costs are more economically attractive in the long run. However, Alex Smith, managing director of Volkswagen UK, acknowledged that persuading consumers is a complex task that requires not only incentives but also consistent standards, effective communication, and an improved charging infrastructure.
The auto industry is calling for comprehensive regulation and fiscal policies to facilitate technology adoption, while also expressing concerns over potential trade wars and tariffs with the European Union and China. Despite these challenges, Transport Secretary Mark Harper emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting motorists and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Sources: SMMT, Bloomberg