2030 ICE deadline: Sector continues to react

Published:  18 November, 2020

 The automotive sector has continued to react to the announcement of the deadline for the end of new petrol and diesel vehicle sales being moved up to 2030, with mixed views across the industry.

Stuart James, Chief Executive of the IGA observed: “While the IGA supports the government’s green agenda, the desire to push to a full HEV car parc by 2030 is very ambitious considering there are many issues still unresolved.

“There are a number of logistical questions that need resolving ahead of the ban. Electric vehicles are highly priced compared to their petrol and diesel counterparts, and the government needs to ensure that consumers have a more affordable choice to maintain their mobility.

“There are also many unanswered questions surrounding HEV battery life, the sustainability of producing these batteries, and charging point infrastructure. Many consumers are wary of buying a HEV, and until they become more affordable and the driving ranges are seen to increase sales, growth is likely to remain low.

“The independent garage sector is well positioned to support customers with servicing and repairs on these vehicles, and over the past five years have been preparing through over 5,000 HEV Awareness and Safety courses delivered by the IGA.

Stuart added: “While the drive to reduce carbon emissions is vital for the long-term future of our planet, the government has a long journey ahead to overcome these hurdles before 2030.”

Looking at the situation from a retail perspective, NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson said: “It is encouraging that hybrids are being given a later phase-out date during this transition as they represent an important steppingstone technology for many motorists who are interested in buying an electric vehicle, but do not yet feel able to go fully electric.   “The current range of government-led purchase incentives has been effective in stimulating consumer demand and retailers continue to work hard to improve public perception, as initiatives like our Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) scheme demonstrate. Strong incentives are key to ensuring the UK remains a strong consumer market for electric cars as the market begins to mature.”

She added: “We have to avoid a situation where the least well-off car drivers are deterred from buying a new car when the time comes to replace their old one.”    Power generation and storage are set to be key issues for a post-ICE UK according to Charley Grimston, CEO of EV and battery information platform providers Altelium. Commenting on the Green Plan, he said: “We feel there are inconsistencies which should be addressed especially around energy creation and storage, and transport.

“In transport, we need much greater support for the automotive industry and its supply chain. Where will all the new electric vehicles come from?  Where will the batteries be made?  £500 million for mass scale production of batteries does not compare to investment in countries such as Germany where figures are in the billions for new battery manufacturing plants.

“There is no mention of autonomous cars which will bring huge opportunities as well as challenges. Funding for HS2 is in the billions and illustrates the inconsistencies in the plan. Autonomous electric vehicles could transform our roads and entire approach to vehicle ownership and travel. Yet investment in this is dwarfed by the spend on a single line of train track.”

Charley added: “Of course, we value any support for a green post-COVID0-19 recovery and for the world-class scientific, manufacturing and engineering capabilities we have in this country. We had just hoped it would be more joined up and deliver on the strategic promise of the Industrial Strategy which the government unveiled in 2017.”

There are other options not being considered, according to Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA): “Government has not done enough to develop low carbon liquid fuels and hydrogen as an alternative to EVs, particularly when the German authorities are investing €7 billion into speeding up the market rollout of hydrogen technology.

“For context, the French government have announced over €30 billion worth of green funds, yet are sticking with a 2040 ban. Even with their sizable investment, they do not believe any date sooner is economically and practically feasible.”

On the infrastructure conundrum, Brian observed: “Technical and commercial challenges remain in establishing the electric charging infrastructure required for mass EV take-up. This is particularly apparent at petrol forecourts where many of our members have abandoned plans to install ultrarapid charging points. This is due to a lack of local power sub-stations, onerous regulation and lack of return on investment.”

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