MPs to inspect role of electric vehicles in UK Industrial Strategy

MPs from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee have today (16 March) launched a consultation into the role of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK's low-carbon transition.

The BEIS Select Committee will look at market barriers and examine the support required to optimise EVs as part of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy. A range of issues such as purchase costs, incentives to increase EV sales and the role of charging infrastructure will be covered during the four-week inquiry.

The Committee will also scrutinise the Government’s ability to respond to potentially disruptive shifts in market, such as the emergence of autonomous vehicles.

Committee chair Iain Wright MP said: “If the UK is to meet its decarbonisation goals and move successfully to a prosperous low carbon economy, then a thriving electric vehicles market is vital.

“Our inquiry will follow on closely from our recent investigation into Industrial Strategy.  Its focus is to assess how the Government’s approach to ‘picking winners’, in this case electric vehicles, can best exploit the opportunities arising from this technology as a means of enhancing the strengths of the UK automotive industry as well as moving to a low carbon economy. It will take a close look at the factors holding back the electric car market and examine options for how it can be better supported.

“As a Committee, we want to investigate concerns that electric vehicle sales and roll-out are not as advanced as they should be and that people may be put off buying an electric car due to a postcode lottery of charging infrastructure, with the availability of charge points varying substantially across the country.”

Call for evidence

The Committee is inviting submissions on written evidence on the following issues by 13 April 2017 via the inquiry webpage:

  • What are the key barriers to development of the UK’s electric vehicle market?
  • Does the Government’s Industrial Strategy sufficiently address the challenges and opportunities for electric vehicles?
  • What support for purchase costs should the Government provide after 2018, in response to the changing costs of electric vehicles?
  • How best can the Government ensure that there is consistent provision of charging infrastructure across the country?
  • Is the Government’s road transport decarbonisation strategy sufficiently flexible to adapt to potentially disruptive market trends such as driverless cars? How might these impact requirements for, and use of, charging infrastructure?

The consultation is expected to feed into a broader innovation inquiry due to be launched in the next month.

EV transition

EVs are estimated to be worth £51bn to the UK economy – if the Government invests in the necessary infrastructure and upskilling the motor industry for the transition.

Ministers are starting to respond positively; Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget announcement last week confirmed that electric cars would benefit from a £270m fund aimed at keeping the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies. This followed the 2016 Autumn Statement which outlined £390m of new funding for low-carbon transport, including testing infrastructure for driverless cars and charging points for Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).

Low-carbon vehicles continue to secure a record share of the UK new car market, during a difficult period for the transport sector, which faces an uphill battle to reach its 2020 renewable targets.

George Ogleby

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