Motor manufacturers unite to promote low emission vehicle benefits
Motor manufacturers joined forces to promote the benefits of low
emission vehicles with the largest display of alternatively fuelled
vehicles demonstrating the range and diversity of cars and vans available.
Set against the backdrop of London’s Tower Bridge, 26
vehicles from 16 different brands underlined the diversity and appeal of
alternatively fuelled vehicles now on sale across the UK.
However, David Bushnell, product manager mobility at vehicle
leasing and fleet management company Alphabet, said “inconsistent government
tax policy” was penalising not rewarding company car drivers switching to
He called for incentives for alternative, ‘greener’ forms
of travel to be a major government priority and urged more clarity from
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in Wednesday’s (8 march) Budget.
Mr Bushnell said: “We’ve heard talk from the government
about the urgent need to clean up the air in a number of UK cities and the
London Mayor has looked to enforce stricter measures to get high-polluting
vehicles off the city’s roads with his £10 ‘toxicity charge’ on the most
polluting vehicles, mainly diesel and petrol registered before 2006, but the
move towards ‘greener’ travel needs positive incentives for company car drivers
that switch to electric vehicles.
“The problem we have is that electric vehicles and
ultra-low emission vehicles risk being thwarted by inconsistent government tax
policy that penalise instead of rewarding motorists moving to alternative,
greener vehicles, as well as an ongoing lag in the development of our charging
infrastructure together with a published Advisory Fuel Rate that recognises electricity
as a fuel for transport.”
Furthermore, Mr Bushnell suggested that cuts in company
car tax from April 2020 could delay the wider adoption of ultra-low emission
vehicles before that date and added: “The government needs to use taxation as a
means of incentivising electric vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles rather
than simply focusing their policy of cleaning up UK air quality through
punitive measures and maximising company car tax revenues.”
There are currently some 83 different alternatively fuelled
cars and vans available to British buyers, designed to suit all lifestyles and
driving needs - from hybrids to plug-in hybrids, fully electric and hydrogen
powered vehicles; and from city run-arounds to SUVs, saloons, and sports cars,
according to the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT).
Alternatively fuelled car registrations have grown more than
threefold over the past five years, and in January this year they recorded
their highest ever market share at 4.2%.
The UK is currently the European Union’s biggest market for
plug-in electric cars, with 36,917 registered in 2016.
Growth has been rapid but market penetration still remains
at a relatively low level considering around 2.7 million new cars were
registered last year, said the SMMT.
According to a new YouGov survey commissioned by SMMT, UK
adults would be more likely to buy an electric car for reasons including low
running costs (51%), cheap or zero car tax (46%) and purchase incentives such
as the government’s plug-in car grant (36%).
But the survey also found that just 13% of those in the
market for a new car said the next vehicle they buy is most likely to be
The most common reasons not to choose an electric vehicle were
linked to charging and financial outlay, with 48% worried they wouldn’t be able
to find an available, working and compatible charge point; and 41% stating they
were put off by higher than average purchase prices.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said,
“Thanks to massive investment by vehicle manufacturers, British car buyers have
never enjoyed so much choice. However, our survey highlights the need for
ongoing government support for this new market. We want to encourage more
people to switch to ultra-low emission vehicles in meaningful numbers but more must
be done to boost buyer confidence. A consistent approach to incentives - fiscal
and otherwise - and, most importantly, greater investment in the charging
network is essential if we are to grow this emerging market.”
Transport Minister John Hayes said, “Alternatively
fuelled vehicles help clean up our environment and save motorists money in
day-to-day running costs.
“We are working with determination to get more people
switching to low emission vehicles. Our Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill,
will make sure the right infrastructure - such as electric charge points and
hydrogen refuelling stations - is in place for this growing market.
“We’ve committed more than £2 billion since 2011 to increase
electric vehicle uptake and support greener transport schemes. This includes
£290 million, announced in the Autumn Statement, to support electric vehicles,
low emission buses and taxis, and alternative fuels.”