Building on its commitment to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, the strategy acknowledges that bold ambitions must be matched by support to enable the transition to be both industry and consumer-led.
1. A range of technologies and fuels will have a role in delivering the government’s ambition
Given the range of vehicles on our roads, and the varying needs of different industries, it is clear that there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach, and different technologies and fuels will continue to play a role as we transition to a zero-emission future.
It is therefore positive to see this acknowledged in the strategy, especially for vehicles which are harder to decarbonise such as heavy goods vehicles.
2. Investing in infrastructure remains core to the shift
Whilst the UK has seen a considerable growth in ultra-low emission vehicles, with sales and registrations in the UK increasing from around 2,000 to almost 100,000 between 2011 and 2016, there is still much further to go.
The strategy acknowledges that affordable, efficient and reliable infrastructure, both recharging and refueling, is vital to the mass market adoption of ultra-low emissions. To support its commitment to developing one of the best vehicle infrastructure networks in the world, the strategy announces consultations on the introduction for chargepoint infrastructure for all new homes and lampposts.
3. Delivering a future-fit transition requires a whole system approach
The strategy recognises that powering the transition requires not only preparing our energy system but investing in our energy infrastructure. It announces the formulation of an Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce which will bring together government, the energy, and automotive industries. The taskforce is a positive step in laying the foundations for the governments wider objectives on its vision for ‘clean growth’ and the ‘future of mobility’ grand challenges within the Industrial Strategy – considering how the UK can be at the forefront of these fundamental shifts in technology, behaviour and business models.
4. Consumer incentives will continue to play a role in driving uptake beyond 2020
There are huge opportunities in the transition to low carbon transport but if we are to meet our collective ambitions and seize these opportunities, consumers must be brought on the journey. It is therefore welcomed to see that the strategy acknowledges the importance of consumers in driving mass market adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles, with commitments to continuing the plug-in grant for cars, vans, taxis, and motorcycles until at least 2020 and the consultation on a new Vehicle Excise Duty approach for vans.
However, as the market continues to grow, certainty on incentives will be vital to ensuring continued take-up of the cleanest of vehicles.
5. The drive towards transport decarbonisation requires leadership at all levels
It is welcomed to see the government’s own commitment to ensure 25% of its car fleet is ultra-low emission by 2022 and for all new government car purchases to be ultra-low emission by default by 2030. In noting the importance of leading by example the strategy rightly highlights the role devolved administrations and local authorities play in the transition to zero emissions, particularly around the recent leadership shown by London in its sales of ultra-low emissions and the plans developed by local authorities to reduce emissions.
However, while it is right that cities across the country are developing their own plans for clean air, it is important that we see joined-up thinking and consistency of policy at a local and national level. This is particularly critical for firms operating fleets across different parts of the country.