Call for clarity on government’s net zero U-turn

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement today (20 September) on postponing the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars to 2035 has been met with frustration and concern from across the logistics sector.

RHA said the government had failed to lay out a clear plan, which iit said is detrimental for the industry. The association added that it is seeking “urgent clarity” from government on what today’s announcement means for the future of HGVs. “Businesses looking to play their part on the road to net zero need certainty, not delays,” it warned.

RHA said the government needs to collaborate with industry to come up with a detailed plan that provides certainty for investment, drives innovation, and directs support “for those who want to do the right thing.”

It continued: “This is the only way to bring down costs and encourage companies to make the switch to net zero in the long term. Simply changing deadlines without a clear plan in place will do neither. We will continue to seek the clarity and certainty our industry urgently needs to bring costs down.”

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier today, said it was important for the UK to have a robust domestic market for electric cars in the UK to incentivise further investment in local manufacturing.

He added that the policy would send an “incredibly confusing” message to consumers, and mused: “The concern now is, does this cause consumers to delay their purchase?”

New research published by SMMT on Monday revealed that the UK’s EV transition had emerged from ‘early adopter’ market phase, with more than 800,000 EVs registered since 2018 and on track to reach almost 18% market share by year end.

It also revealed that fleets were leading electric transition but noted that the end of private consumer incentives was undermining mass market demand.

The SMMT research found that two thirds of drivers want to go electric but are held back by lack of incentives and infrastructure – with nine in 10 who’ve switched stating they would never go back to a conventionally fuelled vehicle.

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SMMT called for greater government support to spur mass market adoption, with support for private buyers in line with incentives for businesses.

ChargeUk, which represents the charging sector, condemned Sunak’s decision to row back on net zero targets.

It said that members of ChargeUK have committed over £6bn to roll out EV infrastructure in all parts of the UK at an “unprecedented” rate, which has seen a new public charging point going live every 20 minutes, creating sustainable jobs and supporting the switch to EVs as well as reducing emissions and improving air quality.

It stated: “For many years the UK has been a leader in the transition to the green economy of the future. Government policies have attracted investment to the UK and created well paid, high quality jobs.”

It added: “Today’s extremely worrying news is not consistent with economic stability or confidence. It will compromise the entire industry, and place jobs and consumer and investor confidence at risk.

“More importantly, government will penalise individual drivers who are doing the right thing. More and more people are making the transition to electric vehicles, as they have been encouraged to do.

“They are entitled to expect government to keep its promises and continue to support the roll out of charging infrastructure across the UK.

Jon Lawes, managing director at Novuna Vehicle Solutions, one of the UK’s largest leasing companies, also raised concerns.

He said: “Any rollback in the long standing 2030 deadline sends out the wrong message to manufacturers and drivers, and threatens future investment in the UK’s battery supply and charging infrastructure, both critical to realising zero emissions mobility. We’ve come a long way and can’t lose sight of the ultimate goal to reduce carbon emissions.”

The post Call for clarity on government’s net zero U-turn appeared first on Motor Transport.

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