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The Car Expert calls for national co-operation on electrifying cars instead of political grandstanding

posted on 02/08/2023
The Car Expert calls for national co-operation on electrifying cars instead of political grandstanding

National unity on the UK’s approach to its transition away from fossil fuelled vehicles is vital for achieving our ambitious climate goals says The Car Expert. 

After the recent by-election in which the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) extension became a political hot potato, posturing on all sides has replaced rational debate and could hamper the UK’s position of leadership. 

“There’s a lot of ill-informed noise about the role of cars and the automotive industry in fighting climate change. But there’s a real risk that the current political grandstanding from all sides will simply make ordinary people’s lives worse, rather than better,” said Stuart Masson, Editorial Director at The Car Expert. 

London’s ULEZ is expanding across all boroughs this month, causing significant debate about the best way to reduce pollution and meet the UK’s climate goals. 

Masson added: “It’s blindingly obvious that running cars on fossil fuels is a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem, and we need to change that. Every first-world country on the planet is moving in this direction, and anyone who thinks that the UK should be going the other way is simply ignoring reality. 

“The UK government has an ambitious plan to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and that was a good decision. But if you’re going to set ambitious targets then you need to have ambitious plans to achieve them, and this is where the government has been sorely lacking. 

“Rather than trying to row back on the 2030 deadline, which would be disastrous, the government needs to double down on it. That means accelerating the installation of public charging points all over the country, giving car buyers the confidence that they will be able to charge their vehicle wherever they may be going. 

“We also need local councils and mayors to be supporting the national agenda to shift from fossil fuels to EVs, rather than using climate change to implement their own taxation schemes like ULEZ or LTNs. A co-ordinated national plan will achieve far better results – at a much lower cost for everyone – than piecemeal schemes that simply tax and frustrate drivers to suit political agendas.” 

Attempts to push back the 2030 cut-off for new petrol and diesel car sales would be disastrous for the UK car industry, which has essentially already passed the ‘point of no return’ for new car investment. It would also be an embarrassing failure for the UK’s drive to reduce transport emissions. 

“For most car buyers, the looming ‘2030’ deadline for petrol and diesel cars is actually more like 2033 or 2035 anyway,” said Masson. “Only 20% of car sales in the UK are new cars – and more than half of those are to fleets, with less than half to private buyers. The other 80% of car sales are used cars, which means that most people will still be able to buy a petrol car well into the 2030s if they choose to. 

“Pushing back the 2030 cut-off for new fossil-fuel cars will simply stop private investment in charging infrastructure and keep polluting vehicles on the road for even longer. 

“Electric vehicle technology is advancing at a rapid rate, so we will see significant improvements to both battery range and charging times before 2030 comes around – and certainly by the time most car buyers must finally make the switch in the mid-2030s. 

“What we really need is a properly co-ordinated plan from central government and across the various devolved local governments and councils to help people to make the change from fossil fuels to electric cars." 

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