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Brexit risk to UK’s supply of electric and plug-in hybrid cars

Brexit risk to UK’s supply of electric and plug-in hybrid cars

Britain’s supply of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles could dry up after Brexit as carmakers would lose a strong incentive to sell low-emission vehicles in the country, a new report claims.  

The UK was the third largest market for zero emission vehicles in the European Union last year, and the largest for plug-in hybrids.  

But as British sales of those cars would no longer count towards carmakers’ European Union carbon dioxide (CO2) emission targets after Brexit, they may choose not to sell them in the UK at all, according to the analysis by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E).  

There were currently significant supply constraints in providing electric vehicles to the European Union market, according to the report and Brexit could see other European countries being prioritised for deliveries as selling the cars to member states would count towards achieving their targets and avoiding fines.  

As a result, the UK would also struggle to meet its fourth carbon budget, which was already at serious risk of being missed due to rising transport emissions, it is claimed.  

The transport group said such an outlook was a blow to the current government’s vision of a ‘Green Brexit’ and its forthcoming ‘Road to Zero’ strategy that foresees the UK as a leader in the shift to zero emission mobility.  

It would also endanger the UK’s industrial strategy to become a leading producer of zero-emission vehicle technology - as carmakers were less likely to set up electric vehicle production in countries where they had a small market and less incentive to sell them.  

Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation director at T&E, said: “The UK’s departure from the European Union and the single market will mean that Britain will no longer count towards the overall targets for vehicle CO2 emissions. Carmakers may simply opt to dump their less efficient models in the UK market.”
·         The report ‘Brexit & Cars: The Impact of the UK departure on the European Automotive Sector’ is available at: https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/2018_05_Brexit_and_vehicles_report.pdf