UK Government Slammed For Approach To Electric Cars


The government has been criticized for removing or reducing incentives for eco-friendly cars.

MPs have criticized the government’s policy surrounding electric vehicles, citing a “lack of ambition” and “vagueness”.

In October, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, which comprises a group of MPs, published a report suggesting that the government incentives electric and plug-in hybrid cars had been removed too soon.

Nissan Leaf electric car is charging in Coventry UK

The Plug-In Car Grant, which saw part of the purchase price of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles paid by the government, were cut in the autumn of last year. Since then, plug-in hybrid vehicles have effectively lost their £2,500 grants, while electric car contributions fell from £4,500 to £3,500.

In its report, the BEIS said the government should bring the incentives back until electric vehicles (EVs) reach “price parity” with conventional petrol or diesel cars.

It also criticised an “unacceptable” lack of clarity in the 2040 ban on internal combustion engines, pointing out that the government has not said whether it plans to ban hybrid vehicles. Furthermore, the report suggested bringing the ban forward to 2032 in order to meet clean air targets.

However, a government response to the report refused to make any commitments or clarifications, instead suggesting that while change should be industry- and consumer-led and the government would constantly “review” its policies.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the BEIS Committee, said the response showed the government’s reluctance to provide the support that will help the industry meet the targets it has set out.

“The government continues to fail to match its own rhetoric in encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles,” she said. “The government’s response to the BEIS Committee’s report highlights once again the lack of ambition and vagueness of the UK government’s targets on zero-emissions vehicles.

“If the government is serious in its commitment to ensuring the UK is a world-leader in electric vehicles, then it needs to give a clear and unambiguous target to help industry and the consumer make the switch to EVs. To ensure the UK seizes the opportunities to develop a globally-competitive EV industry, and takes a lead on decarbonising our transport, the government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032.

“It’s also vitally important that the government comes forward with detailed policies and actions to help make electric vehicles an attractive option, not least by ensuring that consumers across the UK have access to convenient and reliable charging points for their EVs.”

Categories: General

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

36 Comments on "UK Government Slammed For Approach To Electric Cars"

newest oldest most voted

To be fair the UK government has more pressing matters right now…

The problems are related. Energy independence means political and economic independence.

The pollution crisis we’re facing in the UK is a public health emergency that isn’t being taken seriously enough. Over 40 thousand people are estimated to die a year alone, and many times that suffer from all sorts of things such as lung conditions or even reduced intelligence, especially children. I’d hardly call it a matter that should be shelved in favour of Brexit. The cost alone on the NHS from all those who end up admitted due to pollution (mostly diesel) related lung problems, the years of lifespan lost, etc. The list goes on. They say people who live in pollution hotspots are like smokers even if they don’t smoke in terms of health impact. The government has dragged their heels for so long with Brexit, but that doesn’t excuse them from their other obligations. It’s a really poor excuse to justify shelving (other) pivotal issues on the basis that Brexit is still underway. After all, the Government is comprised of hundreds of people all working in different fields of expertise, so you cannot expect that just because Brexit is happening, the environment minister is justified in abandon his regular duties. You cannot expect every single one of those… Read more »

“Incentive” has become the new word for Socialised-Vehicle transport. Lets spend OTHER taxpayer’s money so lazy people can own a car partially paid for by OTHER people. Wealth re-distribution by any other name is T-H-E-F-T.

Indeed, it’s utter madness. You want an EV? That’s fine, but pay for the darn thing yourself thank you very much.

You want an ICE vehicle? Then pay for the health costs you inflict. Genuinely sick of this pathetic inability to see the impact of ICE vehicles on those around us.

ICE vehicles and the oil industry rely on massive subsidies. Let’s remove those first and have a level playing field, eh? Re-distribution of wealth for fossil fuel companies and the associated pollution killing our people is the real T-H-E-F-T.

I suggest you never ever drive on a road partially paid for by OTHER people, you don’t want to be part of that thieving gang.
I would suggest that you never should go to a school partially paid for by OTHER people but it is pretty obvious that you were home-schooled by someone from the same toxic gene-pool.

You’ve probably been bashed over the head with this before, but it bears repeating: All major industries are subsidised in one way or another. There are incentives, subsidies and tax breaks at every level of industry around the world, all aimed at helping governments achieve their objectives. There is no country that doesn’t play the game, and indeed any country that tried to end subsidies would find themselves rapidly out-competed by other countries. The US subsidises a lot of industries very heavily, including the fossil fuel industry. In case you need an example here, ask yourself what Donald Trump meant when he campaigned in favour of coal? How do you think a government would go about encouraging growth in the coal industry? Yes, that’s right: subsidies. There is no other way that Trump’s campaign promise could ever have been delivered: in one form or another, any growth in coal has to be paid for by government because it isn’t going to suddenly become more economical by itself just because Trump is in office. I’ve given this example deliberately to offer a direct counterpoint to your point about EV subsidies, but the same point applies to pretty much every industry you… Read more »

Nailed it 👌

“Wealth re-distribution by any other name is T-H-E-F-T.”

Indeed, let’s stop using trillions of U.S. taxypayer dollars, and the blood and lives of American soldiers, to prop up despotic oil-rich regimes in the Mideast, and stop using the U.S. Navy to protect shipments of oil to our shores.

Let Big Oil hire mercenaries to protect its own interests… and watch the gas prices at the pump soar so rapidly that the EV revolution will be accomplished overnight. No need for any EV tax credits at all!

Wealth redistribution in favor of Big Oil is every bit as bad as you say it is.

It’s “too” not “to” James. As in removed “too” soon. Yeah English nazi, I know. But still, it’s too.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

BEVs still have a #3.5k subsidy.
From April 2020 the benefit-in-kind tax break will be very generous for BEVs.

The people complaining are from the companies who want to push their PHEVs.

There is no point continuing insensitives for PHEVs if you will only ban their emissions at a later stage.
Other things need money like health care and housing.

Did you know? The PHEV London cab from the first picture can charge Chademo AND CCS! The charge ports are on both sides of the grill.

Reports at the time stated that one of the reasons for cutting the PHEV grant was that such cars were being bought by fleets, and many of their drivers never plugged the cars in – in many cases the cables were still in original packaging at the time the lease ended. There was no financial incentives for the actual drivers to do anything other than treat them as conventional cars,they saw plugging in as just an inconvienience.

For the fleet managers, they were disinterested in green matters – just saw the subsidy as a bonus.

It’s a shame for private owners who want to buy a PHEV for the right reasons, and do intend to use it on electric power a lot of the time, but given the circumstances then I think it’s right to concentrate any subsidy on cars which HAVE to be driven in a ZEV mode – a better use of public money. Subsidies are useful to kick start industries, but should never be seen as a good idea in the long term.

So the incentives for PHEVs should have been reduced or ended for fleet buyers… but not for individuals. Alternatively, the fleet buyers should have demonstrated they had the infrastructure to actually charge the PHEVs at night, and that they had employees assigned to that task.

Just because an EV tax incentive was badly managed doesn’t mean EV tax incentives are, in general, a bad idea.

Without disagreeing, the more you think about it, the more complex it gets, and my terminology of “fleets” may not have helped. It could (say) be a leasing company who owns the vehicle, and the end user a company car owner. The subsidy may have meant a lower lease on a PHEV, and that is why it gets selected – by an individual who either can’t be bothered or sees no financial advantage to charge (if his company is paying for fuel), and/or has no charging facility at home.

Couple this with more and more electric and hybrid vehicles being sold, and the government was either faced with allocating a lot more money as total (not likely) or reducing the per car allowance. (The headline is a bit misleading – I’m not sure the overall subsidy money has declined, rather the number of sales has increased, so the per car figure is what’s gone down.)

Personally, I think concentraing the (limited) money available for true ZEV vehicles is making the best use of a limited pot. Hybrids might have now got beyond the subsidy stage, battery cars need it more.

That is right kind of car for me. A used outlander with a mint battery!

Be thankful you have any incentive at all. Our new government in Ontario completely killed all EV incentives. And our Federal Government offers nothing either. Pretty lame!

“It also criticised an “unacceptable” lack of clarity in the 2040 ban on internal combustion engines, pointing out that the government has not said whether it plans to ban hybrid vehicles. ”
Say what? Is English your second language? Hybrids with ICE engines are banned in 2040. What could be clearer? Another form of hybrid like fuel cell cars with a plug would not be banned.

Unfortunately, the UK government has not been clear on this at all. The high level message was that all ICEs would be banned from 2040 but when questioned by the media and others, the Government admitted that PHEVs and even conventional hybrids would NOT be banned. Crazy! By 2040 it’s unlikely that PHEVs and conventional hybrids will still be around so no need for the ban. The 2040 ban announcement was timed to coincide with bad news about the UK failing to meet local air quality targets around the country – hence a goid way to distract the media from bad news.

It might be a mute point for some! I see ten local council authorities in those poor air quality areas are putting “work place parking levies” in place at a cost of up to £1000 per/year/ parking space on your employers property to tax you out of your cars & onto public transport to commute to work.

It’s a committee of MPs saying this not the OP or author here! And yes, the government has not been at all clear what the ban means and if it applies to hybrids plus if course a future government coudl water this proposal down, given the lack of clarity on what it covers, to allow Toyota-style fake hybrids to count.

Though subsidies can be helpful to direct a product or industry towards a desired result for the gov’t, there is also a drawback. If you make the subsidy too generous, you will never reach “cost parity” because the manufacturers get too lazy and don’t have any incentive to reduce the costs. If there is a regulation stick to go with the subsidy carrot, then there is more likely to be action. I’m not going to say which stick should be used, because there are too many and that delves into a political discussion. But I do think that subsidies alone are not the end-all solution.

When there are several competing players in the market — and there is not illegal price collusion — there is incentive for each player to reduce prices, regardless of subsides available equally to all players.

Why of all cities, London needs its own funky design of a cab that also costs more than twice a regular car? Just buy some Chevy bolts and get it over with. They are very good city cars, can easily do a shift on one full charge, are taller for easy entry and exit, needs no downtime for (bi?)monthly maintenance, are ridiculously cheap to run, are quite and doesn’t pollute locally.. I can go on..

The London Taxi is compliant with the laws on ‘Persons with Reduced Mobility’. i.e. It can carry someone in their wheelchair. notice that I say ‘IN’ their wheelchair. Very few other vehicles do that. Most other taxi solutions require you to extract the person from the wheelchair and them put them in a normal seat. The London Taxi has two flip down seats just so that it can do this.
GM makes the Bolt. GM bailed out of Europe a couple of years ago. Don’t need to say anything else on that dead end.
The rules for a London Taxi driver getting their license means that if I hail (As in signal it with a raise of my hand) a cab outside the Park Lane Hilton and say to the driver ‘Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol please’ he has to take me.. That’s why it is a PHEV (the ICE only charges the battery)

Do the rules also state the cab can’t stop for a charge, if someone has such an extravagant request?…

(Not to mention that any decent BEV can do that journey easily without stopping…)

While a BEV can do the journey I quoted, it could be that the cabbie has been busy and the charge level of the battery might be low and the 120 miles (or thereabouts) is more than the charge level remaining.
As for stopping for a ‘charge’ that is down to a negotiation between the driver and the passenger(s).

That’s a perfectly normal request, it’s not extravagant at all.
You can’t stop mid journey for a charge.
If you have a vehicle with 200 miles range, but has already spent 8 hours in service and then you ask it to do a 120 mile trip without charging, then no, no BEV could easily do that without stopping.

I don’t think you quite understand how the taxi service works…..

Drop the PHEV $ as has been done. Leave the EV subsidy as it originally was. Use the ‘saved’ PHEV money to fill in the worst gaps in the charging network.

And while I absolutely hate protectionism… if it’s a hard brexit, then perhaps add 1500-2000gbp for EVs produced in the Uk. Which oddly enough would include the Leaf, but not the iPace or whatever Dyson is planning. If it’s a hard brexit, there is strong argument for rebuilding local industry.

The UK Government is not directly funding the charging network. The Scottish Government has put money into CP’s outside the central belt. That’s why there are lots of chargers (Well, a good number ) already in place in the highlands and islands many of which are free to use at the moment.

I’d prefer the subsidies for cars and home chargepoints to be removed and the money spent on rolling out a proper national charging infrastructure including urban hubs to help those who cannot charge at home.
The problem with subsidies direct to consumer is you never know how much of that effectively goes back to the manufacturer. e.g. If the subsidy for a car is £3,500 then perhaps without that subsidy the manufacturer will reduce the price by a few thousand anyway to encourage sales.
And one of the the key issues with EVs in the UK is the inadequate charging networks. Not enough locations, not enough chargers per location, too few consequences for blocking a chargepoint (be that by ICE, PHEV or even EV)

So… the UK has a government. Great news!

Governments are run by old farts living in an old reality. Let the emerging markets and reality do the deciding.