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Government must ‘supercharge’ Road to Zero Strategy to meet net zero pledge

Government plans for ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 will be derailed unless action is taken on electric vehicles.

New analysis from the BVRLA shows issues with taxation, charge point infrastructure and vehicle supply are hampering fleet EV take-up

So says the BVLRA, backed by new research showing key areas in which the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy is failing to meet targets. This includes taxation, charge point infrastructure and vehicle supply, which are hampering fleets’ effort to go greener.

Providing stark evidence to the Government of where action needs to be taken, the BVRLA teamed up with sustainability consultancy, Ricardo, to produce its Road to Zero Report Card. The report provides a detailed analysis of key elements of the Government’s EV strategy and consolidates them into five categories – policy measures, tax benefits, new vehicles, charge points and user sentiment – giving each a traffic-light assessment based on a range of sub-criteria.

Overall, the Government’s strategy scores an ‘Amber – Brakes on’ rating, meaning that it is slightly behind schedule and that the market is seeing a mixed response to the government’s policy measures.

And the more detailed sub-scoring shows that although there are green lights for some of the sub-criteria – indicating that the UK is a ‘front-runner’ compared to other countries – these are outnumbered by the red warnings, which show that the Government is failing in the following key areas:

Tax policy – persuading large fleet buyers to go electric is one of the fastest ways to boost the number of EVs on the road. A lack of clarity about what taxes will be levied on the buyers and users of EVs in future years means they are holding back.

Charge point access – there are still too many rapid charge point ‘blackspots’ and the ability to roam between different charging networks remains a challenge.

Leading by example – the Government set a target to make 25% of its car fleet ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) by 2022, but recent data indicates that only 2% are ULEVs, placing the Government way behind on its own plans.

Highlighting how the fleet sector has already started to make the transition to ultra-low emission vehicles – and is in fact leading the surge in zero-emission vehicles – BVRLA chief executive, Gerry Keaney said operators are desperate for clarity on future taxation and incentives, want better access to public charging and are frustrated at lead times of over 12 months for the most popular EVs.

“Fleets are already spending billions of pounds on electric vehicles and can drive an even faster transition to zero-emission motoring with more government support,” added Keaney.

“Growing concerns around urban air quality and climate change mean that the Government is already updating its targets with more ambitious ones. We are ready to work with policymakers and the automotive supply chain in meeting today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

The report follows comments last week from transport and environmental specialists calling for urgent action on transport emissions in the wake of the net zero announcement.

Commenting on the BVRLA research and the call for further support to help fleets transition to EVs, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions lent its backing.

Managing director Jon Lawes said: “The rapid growth of registrations for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) clearly illustrates a growing confidence in EVs and demand to move towards low carbon transport. However, the issue of overcoming the up-front costs fleets face from making the switch to EVs and providing adequate charging infrastructure, are both vital to address if we are to accelerate EV transition further. Business is already rising to the challenge as we have seen from our involvement in Optimise Prime, the world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles but further support is needed.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.