As someone who has long campaigned on the importance of protecting our environment, combating climate change and transitioning to net zero I support the Government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030. This is because it will greatly lower our country’s emissions, improve public health and offers significant economic opportunities.
Before I get into the substance of my response, other than the CEBR analysis, which I note was part funded by the Motorcycle Action Group, I was not able to access the links you provided in your email.
In 2020, roughly one quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions came from our transport network, with road vehicles responsible for 91% of these emissions. Transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) will therefore help reduce the UK’s emissions significantly. While cars and vans vastly outnumber motorcycles on UK roads, motorcycles are an important and sizeable vehicle population, with 1.3 million currently licensed in 2021.
Of course the transition to all EVs will not be immediate or total. Following the announcement of the 2030 policy by Boris Johnson in 2020, there is roughly a decade to put everything in place necessary to support the transition.
Take up of EVs was increasing slowly before the Government announced the 2030 cut-off date and will continue to do so more quickly as a result. The growth of electric vehicles can be seen in Government figures for new vehicle registrations. Comparing 2021 with 2020, there were:
- 2.3 million vehicles registered for the first time in 2021 in the UK, up 5%
- 327,000 plug-in vehicles registered for the first time in 2021 in the UK, up 77%
Interestingly, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that in December 2022 the top two most bought cars in the UK were the Tesla Model Y and the Tesla Model 3.
Regarding the costs the CEBR report puts on the various aspects of the transition to EVs, understandably these are based on 2022 costs. However, this will not be an accurate reflection of how costs change over the years. As with any other industry, as a product becomes more popular and a greater range of models becomes available average prices will drop and there will be different price points for people buying a new vehicle. The range of electric vehicles currently is not as great as for internal combustion engine models, but even before the Government’s announcement of the 2030 policy the EV market was already expanding and offering a far greater range of vehicles. Technological and manufacturing improvements will also bring costs down. This is already happening; battery prices are little more than a tenth of what they were in 2010.
A clear demonstration of how innovation and investment is improving EVs is how the range of EVs has increased. Range is one of the most commonly cited concerns about EVs, but again the SMMT shows how much battery technology has improved. At their Test Day held in 2011, the average range of a battery electric vehicle was just 74 miles. This had risen to 257 miles by the time of their Test Day held in April last year.
This increased range is a result of the automotive industry’s innovation and investment – and the trend will continue, with all of Britain’s leading car manufacturers and importers committed to decarbonising their model line-ups with a further 150 new and updated plug-ins due to be delivered to the UK market by 2025.
Commenting on this trend towards cheaper electric vehicles, the SMMT has said that EVs are becoming increasingly viable for a growing number of people, adding that EVs are cheap to run when charged at home.
Further figures and commentary from the SMMT reveals just how far the UK’s EV market has developed since these products first entered production:
“At the time of the launch of Britain’s first mass-produced battery electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, in 2011, just nine plug-in car models were available in the UK – making up less than one in 1,000 total registrations. Today [April 2022], there are more than 140 plug-in models available, accounting for around one in five new cars sold this year, with a further 50 models expected to be launched by the end of 2022.”
The transition to EVs is represents a manufacturing opportunity for the UK. The Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution (published November 2020) stated that an accelerated transition to zero emission vehicles could deliver support for around 40,000 new jobs in 2030 and around £3 billion of private investment by 2026. Investment has already surpassed this: by March 2022, Mini, Vauxhall, Ford, Bentley, Rolls Royce and others had committed to a zero emission future from 2030, and more than £3 billion of investment has flowed into the UK zero emission vehicle sector.
There will also be opportunities for jobs in research as a result of the accelerated transition to EVs. Government and industry have jointly committed around £1 billion through the Advanced Propulsion Centre for collaborative research and development in the next generation of low carbon vehicle technologies. A further £318 million of government funding has been provided to put the UK at the forefront of the design, development, and manufacturing of electric batteries through the Faraday Battery Challenge and nearly £80 million to Driving the Electric Revolution to accelerate growth in the supply chain for power electronics, machines and drives.
An important point on the costs to consumers which I don’t believe was considered in the CEBR report is that EVs are exempt from local emission zone charges, such as the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Congestion Charge tariffs as well as future Clean Air Zones. If the Mayor of London’s proposed expansion of the ULEZ goes ahead later this year, driving a non-electric vehicle anywhere in London would cost at least £12.50 for each day you drove your vehicle. That could cost you over £300 per month, or over £4,000 every year. As other local authorities around the country consider introducing ‘congestion zone’ style daily charges, this will become a more and more important factor in the running costs of a vehicle.
I note your point about vehicle excise duty or road tax. The Government has also acknowledged this, stating in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution that:
“As we move forward with this transition, we will need to ensure that the tax system encourages the uptake of EVs and that revenue from motoring taxes keeps pace with this change, to ensure we can continue to fund the first-class public services and infrastructure that people and families across the UK expect.”
As it stands battery electric vehicles are exempt from road tax. As the proportion of EVs on the roads grows and eventually exceeds traditional petrol and diesel vehicles unless there is reform there will be a loss in tax revenue and less money available to maintain our roads. Ministers have already acknowledged this and will need to consider carefully what tax regime might replace the existing one. Taking one possibility, there has been some discussion of shifting to a regime based on miles driven, rather than emissions.
Regarding the infrastructure necessary to support the transition to EVs, including home charging, the Government published its EV infrastructure strategy last year, which you can read in full here –
Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy
We already have one of the largest rapid charging networks in Europe – a 2020 study found we had more rapid chargers for every 100 miles of key strategic road than any country in Europe.
There are around 29,600 public chargepoints in the UK of which over 5,400 are ‘rapid’ – able to charge an EV in around 30 minutes. The number of public chargepoints has grown four-fold over the last five years. On average, over 600 new chargers are being added to the UK’s roads each month, of which over 100 are rapid. However, the EV infrastructure strategy acknowledges that the pace of rollout is not fast enough.
To encourage a faster rollout, the Government has put significant funding behind the transition, with a £950 million rapid charging fund to support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered chargepoints across England’s motorways and major A-roads by 2035. The rollout of local on-street charging will be sped up by an obligation on local authorities to develop and implement local charging strategies to plan for the transition to a zero emission vehicle fleet. Ministers have committed to supporting local authorities with over £500 million of funding, helping them find innovative ways to increase local chargepoint coverage.
To boost the number of home charging points, new regulations will make home charging a default option. From June 2022, all new homes, or those undergoing major renovation, with associated parking will have to have chargepoints installed.
In the EV insfrastructure strategy the Government states it expects there will be around 300,000 public chargers as a minimum by 2030, but also says there could be more than double this number.
The ban will also have clear benefits for quality of life and health, especially in built up areas that tend to have the worst air quality currently.
Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity. It makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections and other illnesses. The Department of Health and Social Care’s advisory Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) estimated in 2018 that long-term exposure to man-made air pollution in the UK has an annual impact on shortening lifespans, equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths.
Air pollution can affect the heart and blood vessels, and there is emerging evidence it can also affect mental ability. A recent review of 70 studies in human populations concluded it is likely that air pollution does contribute to a decline in mental ability and dementia in older people. The most likely way this occurs is through effects on the circulation. It is also known that air pollutants, particularly small particles, can affect the heart and blood vessels, including to the brain. (You can view the study here – Air pollution: cognitive decline and dementia
Reducing the number of petrol and diesel vehicles on the road will make a big difference to air quality and therefore our nation’s health.
The transition to EVs will have other health benefits too. Currently, over half the UK population is exposed to daytime noise levels above recommended limits. Zero emission vehicles – extremely quiet at low, urban speeds – will help address this. This will support levelling-up and help reinvent high streets as enjoyable places to live, work, visit and spend leisure time.
Finally, it is worth remembering that the ban will only apply to new vehicles. Petrol and diesel vehicles sold prior to 2030 will remain in use and on the roads. People who do not want an electric vehicle will still be able to use their internal combustion powered vehicle.
Tim Loughton MP
12th January 2023