Plug the gap to zero emission mobility
The automotive industry has called for all stakeholders to match its commitment to deliver zero emission mobility, as new analysis by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals some £10.8 billion has been dedicated to UK electric vehicle production and gigafactories since 2011, with billions more invested globally to bring new technology to market. Given the figure accounts purely for public announcements by vehicle and battery manufacturers, and does not include wider supply chain investment, the overall UK automotive commitment to electrification will be even higher.
In Britain’s first ‘electric decade’, kicked off by a £420 million investment in Sunderland for the UK’s first mass-produced battery electric car, more than 10 vehicle manufacturers have invested in communities across the country to create jobs and to design, engineer and build the cleanest, greenest vehicles for domestic and export markets. Alongside cars, the UK also produces electric vans, buses and trucks, as established manufacturers and new entrants have invested in production.
The UK electric vehicle market has followed suit, growing rapidly. Ten years ago, six models of electric car were available, accounting for just one in 1,000 new car registrations. There are now more than 140 models on the market, with electric vehicles comprising more than one in six new cars and one in 28 vans registered. Just one in 80 cars on the road, however, runs on electricity, with the UK aiming for one in three by 2030 if net zero ambitions are to be met. The challenges are examined in ‘Plugging the Gap’, SMMT’s updated blueprint for delivering the zero emission mobility transition.
Private motorists accounted for just a third of new plug-in registrations in 2021, with uptake far higher among businesses and fleets, which benefit from generous fiscal incentives. Conversely, purchase incentives have been rolled back dramatically over the past year, with the UK’s EV adoption now falling behind some European markets which offer more attractive incentive packages.
Further growth in this market, however, depends as much on chargepoint provision as affordability. Research by SMMT reveals that the ratio of public standard chargers to electric vehicles has rapidly deteriorated, with just one charger for every 32 plug-ins across the UK compared with one for every 16 just 12 months ago and significant regional variations. The industry is calling on all parties integral to the drive to zero emission mobility, including chargepoint operators and government, to help plug the gap between infrastructure rollout and uptake.