Budget branded a ‘missed opportunity’ to put the stuttering electric vehicle revolution in Britain back on track
The Budget has been branded a ‘missed opportunity’ to put the stuttering electric vehicle revolution in Britain back on track.
Industry figures and two former transport secretaries spoke out amid mounting fears that the UK will not be ready for the ban of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Problems include a lack of charging points and the often sky-high price of buying and plugging in an electric vehicle (EV). And while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt froze fuel duty for the 13th year in a row – saving petrol and diesel drivers around £6billion a year – there were no policies to encourage the switch to greener cars.
Andy Palmer, former chief of car maker Aston Martin, called Hunt’s Budget ‘counter-intuitive’ when it came to electric, especially given plans to outlaw the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in seven years.
‘The frozen fuel duty seems like a missed opportunity to incentivise a move towards EVs,’ he said. Adrian Hallmark, chairman and chief executive of Bentley, welcomed tax breaks to boost investment, which were outlined in the Budget, as ‘a great first step’. But he said ministers must do more to ‘incentivise the transition to green technology’.
Driven to distraction: Problems include a lack of charging points and the often sky-high price of buying and plugging in an electric vehicle
‘Only then can we be an attractive proposition for car manufacturers looking at where to build the next generation of batteries and much more,’ he said.
A string of problems – from a lack of charging points to the collapse of plans to build a £3.8billion car battery gigafactory in Northumberland – have highlighted a lack of progress.
Lord Darling, who was transport secretary under Tony Blair, said the high turnover of transport ministers – five in the past five years – means Britain’s electric car revolution is careering off course.
‘Frankly, there’s been so many transport secretaries that you lose count, which is actually part of the problem with the Department for Transport,’ said Darling.
Geoff Hoon, transport secretary under Gordon Brown, called the Budget ‘disappointing’ especially with its lack of focus on charging points.
Just 8,680 charging devices were installed nationwide in 2022.
And there is a north-south divide with nearly a third in London. Westminster has more than Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham combined.
Hoon said: ‘We’re moving to a situation where by 2030 there will no longer be any production of petrol and diesel cars – people have got to make that change sooner rather than later. You’d have thought that a tax break or some incentive there would have made eminent sense.’