The Budget called a ‘missed opportunity’ to get Britain’s electric vehicle stutter revolution back on track
The budget has been called a ‘missed opportunity’ to get Britain’s electric vehicle stutter revolution back on track.
Industry figures and two former transport secretaries have spoken out amid growing fears the UK is not ready for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Problems include the lack of charging points and the often exorbitant price of buying and plugging in an electric vehicle (EV). And while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt froze fuel taxes for the 13th consecutive year – saving petrol and diesel drivers around £6billion a year – there was no policy to encourage the switch to greener cars.
Andy Palmer, former head of carmaker Aston Martin, called Hunt’s budget “counterintuitive” on electricity, especially given plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in seven years.
“The frozen fuel tax seems like a missed opportunity to encourage a move towards electric vehicles,” he said. Adrian Hallmark, chairman and chief executive of Bentley, hailed the tax breaks to spur investment, which were described in the budget, as “a great first step”. But he said ministers needed to do more to “encourage the transition to green technology”.
Leads to distraction: issues include a lack of charging stations and the often exorbitant price of buying and plugging in an electric vehicle
“Only then can we be an attractive proposition for automakers looking to build the next generation of batteries and more,” he said.
A range of issues – from a lack of charging points to the collapse of plans to build a £3.8billion car battery gigafactory in Northumberland – have highlighted a lack of progress.
Lord Darling, who was Transport Secretary under Tony Blair, said the high turnover of transport ministers – five in the past five years – means Britain’s electric car revolution is veering off course .
“Frankly, there have been so many transportation secretaries that you lose count, which is actually part of the problem with the Department of Transportation,” Darling said.
Geoff Hoon, transport secretary under Gordon Brown, called the budget “disappointing”, particularly because of its lack of focus on charging points.
Only 8,680 chargers were installed nationwide in 2022.
And there is a north-south divide with almost a third in London. Westminster has more than Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham combined.
Hoon said: “We are heading towards a situation where by 2030 there will be no production of petrol and diesel cars – people need to make this change as soon as possible.” You would have thought that a tax break or incentive there would have made perfect sense.