Britain takes leading position on EV transition but support and incentives lacking for consumers

Britain is now Europe’s second largest zero emission car market with one electric vehicle registered every 60 seconds in August 2023, according to the latest data from SMMT.

Despite this, the automotive trade association warned that the move to mass transition is threatened by the absence of support for private buyers. Many private consumers plan to switch to electric but are postponing due to concerns over affordability and the uncertainty of a nationwide, accessible charging network.

In total, 68 per cent of non-EV drivers surveyed by market research company Savanta, said they want to make the switch, but only two per cent plan to invest this year, and 17 per cent in 2024. Over half said they will not be willing until 2026 or later.

The end of private consumer incentives, such as the Plug-in Car Grant, undermines mass market demand and the industry push to reach net zero goals.

Following this removal of the grant scheme in 2022, Britain is now the only major European market with no consumer EV incentives, yet with the most ambitious transition timeline.

Mirroring existing VAT discounts on other environmental products, such as heat pumps and solar panels, would offer the incentive for private buyers to move to EVs, as well as mandating targets for a changepoint rollout, to tackle the uncertainty over insufficient accessible infrastructure.

Consumer satisfaction with EVs is high, with SMMT reporting that nine in 10 EV drivers said they would not go back to a conventionally fuelled vehicle. Significantly, 84 per cent of those EV drivers have access to a home charging port.

In a statement, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We are entering a new phase in the UK’s EV transition, in which Britain can, and should, be a leader. We have the industry, the love of new technology and the scale to succeed. The government has recently demonstrated its commitment to EV manufacturing in the UK and that commitment must be extended to the consumer.

“A comprehensive package of measures would encourage households across the UK to go electric now, boosting an industry slowly recovering from the pandemic and delivering benefits for the Exchequer, society and the global environment.”