The Labour party has pledged to support the uptake of electric vehicles with a range of schemes should the party come to power.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary and MP for Salford and Eccles, revealed a raft of planned measures designed to “jumpstart an electric car revolution”. These ideas include a plan to introduce a £2.5 million scrappage scheme for electric vehicle (EV) buyers and £3.6 billion of investment in charging infrastructure, as well as ideas to “strengthen” the UK car industry.

The planned scrappage scheme would see drivers offered £2,000 to scrap petrol or diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old, while Labour says the investment in charging points would be enough to charge 21.5 million electric cars. The party has also promised to invest £2 billion in three new “gigafactories” designed to make electric car batteries and £500 million into four metal reprocessing plants to reprocess cobalt and rare earth minerals used in batteries.

Electric car lithium battery pack and power connections

Similarly, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said Labour would also introduce interest-free loans for drivers buying an EV, and the party has also proposed removing the £320 road tax surcharge for EVs that cost more than £40,000 - as long as the vehicles are bought for fleet use. Labour says the loans of up to £33,000 will allow “low-to-middle-income households, those living in rural areas, independent contractors and SMEs to save on new electric cars”.

As part of the measures, the party says it will call on businesses to ensure their car fleets are 100 percent electric by 2025. It’s a pledge that Labour has promised to match by ensuring all government vehicles are electric by 2025 if the party manages to wrest power at the next general election.

Owner of Nissan Leaf electric car plugging in the charger in Coventry UK

“Tackling the climate emergency provides an opportunity to upgrade our economy and way of life,” said Ms Long-Bailey. “Instead of driving old polluting cars, we want ordinary people to have the ability to drive to new, clean and green cars. The air in our cities will be cleaner and the UK’s carbon emissions will be lower. Increased demand for electric cars will also give a much-needed boost to our automobile industry, creating thousands of new jobs.”

Gerry Keaney, the chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said it was heartening to see the party take the needs of businesses into account, suggesting that the idea showed “understanding” of fleets’ importance to the sector.

Fleet of Ford Fiesta and Focus models parked in a row

“It is reassuring to see fleets being acknowledged in this announcement as it indicates a degree of understanding and appreciation of the key role that fleets play in delivering the UK’s zero-emission goals,” he said. “We welcome the proposed removal of the £320 surcharge for EVs, which was one of our recent pre-Budget calls to the Chancellor, but this on its own will not be enough for fleets to meet this 2025 target.

“We need to remove some of the uncertainties that are currently stifling progress. The fleet sector needs some long-term clarity on future company car tax rates for electric vehicles. We would also like to see continued support for the Plug-in Car Grant to at least 2025. BVRLA members are currently responsible for around 35 percent of the UK’s plug-in electric vehicles, but this figure can be far greater with the right incentives and support for fleets.”

Electric cars charging at British motorway service station in Devon UK
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