Positive step? Automotive sector responds to Net Zero strategy

Published:  25 October, 2021

The automotive industry cautiously welcomed the government’s recently published road to net zero strategy. The plan lays out a roadmap for the UK to cut its contribution to climate change down to zero by 2050, and covers industry, aviation, home-heating and transport.

Among the measures is an additional £350 million for the pre-existing UK £1 billion commitment to aid vehicle electrification, along with £620 million for specific EV grants and infrastructure, focused on local on-street residential charging points.

Commenting on the plan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “By moving first and taking bold action, we will build a defining competitive edge in electric vehicles, offshore wind, carbon capture technology and more, whilst supporting people and businesses along the way. With the major climate summit COP26 just around the corner, our strategy sets the example for other countries to build back greener too as we lead the charge towards global net zero.”

Noting that VMs have been racing ahead on the EV front, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The automotive industry is putting zero-emission vehicles on Britain’s roads at pace beyond all forecasts, such is the choice and appeal of these new models. A well-designed, flexible regulatory framework could help maintain or even increase this pace to ensure we deliver on our shared decarbonisation ambitions.

“Consumers need choice and encouragement, irrespective of where they live or what they drive. The additional targeted funding for electric vehicles is welcome and will help ensure affordability for certain models. To ensure we have the reliable, accessible and nationwide chargepoint network this transition needs, however, requires a similar regulatory approach. The announcement of additional funds for on-street residential charging must energise much-needed private sector investment but consumers will only have confidence in the future if there are commensurate and binding requirements on the infrastructure sector. Combining regulatory commitments with financial ones is the key to a successful transition to zero-emission road transport.”

NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson observed: “A combination of financial support measures such as the plug-in electric vehicle grant and a reliable, easy-to-access charging infrastructure is vital to ensure that the majority of motorists embrace the transition to zero emissions. Although it is unclear how the funds announced today will be allocated, these investments represent a positive step. It is imperative that the government continues to support vehicle retailers and consumers to accomplish the ambitious goal of ending the sale of internal combustion vehicles by 2030/2035 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

“To help achieve these targets, NFDA has been working closely with its franchised dealer members to facilitate the transition to zero emissions through our government backed Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) accreditation scheme which recognises retailers’ expertise in the sector and supports consumer confidence. we look forward to seeing further details about the government’s plans”.

Beyond the shift to EVs, more effective enforcement of current emissions regulations is being called for by BM Catalysts, including a clampdown on the use of lower quality emissions control devices, including catalytic converters, with a view to bringing down vehicle emissions.

Following the release of the government publication ‘Decarbonising Transport: A better, Greener, Britain’, the company called for a more detailed plan.BM Catalysts Managing Director Toby Massey said: “We must not forget the role the automotive aftermarket can play in ensuring emissions control devices being supplied and fit are legal. The market needs to be properly educated on matters such as type approval to continue to raise standards and ensure it is playing its part in reducing harmful emissions and air pollution.”

The company also cited a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), ‘All Aboard: A Plan for Fairly Decarbonising How People Travel’. This noted that the Climate Change Committee’s favoured route to decarbonisation could lead to traffic increasing by 11% by 2050 and a 28% rise in car ownership.

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