‘Long way to go’ to meet UK’s electric vehicle targets, says NAO
Take-up of electric vehicles has a “long way to go” to meet government plans for only zero-emission cars and vans to be sold by 2035.
A new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) finds that while the UK has made progress in increasing the number of ultra-low emission cars and charge-points, as of September 2020, only 1.1% of UK cars were ultra-low emission including 0.5% that were electric.
And while sales of new ultra-low emission cars are fast increasing – by the end of September 2020, they accounted for 8% of the market, above recommendations from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – substantial growth is required to meet the Government’s target for zero-emission vehicles to comprise 100% of new sales from 2035.
To help drive take-up, NAO is recommending the Government evaluate which initiatives have worked well. Although there has been a significant growth in charging infrastructure over the last decade, it added that OZEV has not yet focused sufficiently on charge point availability for people who do not have a driveway. And although there has been criticism of local authorities for not taking up funding under the On-street Residential Scheme, which was launched in 2016 and granted new funding this month, local authorities told the NAO that the scheme had been designed without sufficient consultation and as a result it was difficult to bid for funding.
A report published by the NAO in December 2020 on the Government’s work to deliver net zero by 2050 also identified many issues on managing the transition to zero-emission cars. This includes a lack of long-term certainty over the Government’s plans, including its financial support.
Instead, the NAO has recommended that OZEV, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should develop detailed plans to achieve the 2050 target, reporting progress against clear milestones at regular intervals.
It added that the departments need a much clearer plan for how they will deliver this societal change, focusing on delivering carbon reductions, not solely increased car sales; and a more targeted approach to addressing potential barriers to take-up across the country.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “The number of ultra-low emission cars on UK roads has increased, but meeting the Government’s ambitious targets to phase out new petrol and diesel cars in less than a decade still requires a major transition for consumers, car makers and those responsible for charging infrastructure.
“Government now has the opportunity to reflect on what has gone well and better target its interventions and spending to secure this fundamental change and deliver the carbon reduction required.”
For more details of the NAO report, click here.