Is the Government Road to Zero strategy falling short?

Taxation uncertainty, charge-point blackspots, and unacceptably long lead-in times for EV vehicles are key issues impacting on Government progress towards its pledge to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, according to the latest research from the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA).

It is estimated that road transport is responsible for 26% of the UK’s greenhouses gas emissions. To reduce this impact, the Government published a ‘Road to Zero’ strategy[1] in July 2018, pledging to make almost every car and van zero emission by 2050.

Last week’s Road to Zero Report Card from the BVRLA, produced in association with sustainability consultancy firm, Ricardo, uses a scorecard system to analyse progress towards net zero targets and draws data from fleets that own or operate nearly five million cars and vans.

According to the report, the key issues impacting on electric vehicle registration include taxation uncertainty, charge point infrastructure and vehicle supply – with lead-times of over 12 months for the most popular EVs.

The report also highlights the following issues:

  • 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 in future years, is causing buyers and users of EVs to hold back.
  • Charge point access – there are still too many rapid charge point ‘blackspots’ while roaming between different charging networks continues to be challenging.
  • 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% of the current fleet actually are.

The report analyses key elements of the Government’s EV strategy and groups 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. The overall strategy gets 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.

The BVRLA makes a number of recommendations that it believes will get the UK’s electric vehicle strategy back on track. These include:

  • Providing a five-year roadmap for motoring taxes and EV incentives
  • Setting a national quota for EV registrations that ramps up between now and 2030
  • Mandating universal methods of access and payment for public charge points.