The UK is seriously lagging behind its own electric car targets designed to help reduce the country’s illegal levels of air pollution, a new report has warned.
According to new analysis by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the UK already doesn’t have enough public charge points available to cater for the electric vehicles on the road today, and not enough mechanics are trained to work on this latest breed of plug-in cars.
London – which has a wider availability of public charge points – is the only city to be on course to hit targets, it said.
The report comes as environmental experts warn that the sale of diesel and petrol cars needs to be halted well ahead of the current 2040 UK schedule, suggesting it be fast-tracked by almost a decade to ensure the road network is decarbonised by 2050.
Lagging behind: A new report has warned that only London has a strong enough electric car infrastructure to meet optimistic targets
The IMI said the national average of eight electric cars per charging point across the UK was well short of where the country needs to be.
It also said that only around three per cent of all vehicle technicians are currently qualified to work safely on electrified vehicles – the vast majority of whom work in manufacturers’ franchised dealerships.
The motor industry representative said there are ‘serious gaps in the infrastructure to support these targets’ and the UK now faces ‘a race to catch up with demand after failing so far to deliver a sustainable infrastructure’.
With diesel sales in rapid decline and full electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles at record registrations levels, it is estimated that there will be more than 1 million ultra-low emissions plug-in cars on UK roads by 2020.
But there are currently only 18,000 public charging points across 6,500 locations across the nation for owners to use.
The highest proportion of these are in the capital, which is the only UK city on course to hit electric vehicle targets.
There are now growing concerns that the shortfall of charging points won’t be able to support the blossoming network of electrified models entering the market, especially with manufacturers ramping up development of their next-generation cars.
The world’s largest vehicle maker, Volkswagen Group, for instance, has announced that it will launch a new electrified vehicle every month from 2022 and that 20 per cent of its new vehicles will be zero emission by 2021 – equating to 2.2 million new plug-in cars.
Volkswagen will produce 2.1 million new electrified cars by the end of 2021, and other vehicle makers will look to replicate these increased production outputs
In order to cope with the increasing number of electric cars on the roads, the IMI has called on the government to invest more money on a reliable and accessible infrastructure.
It also said that ministers must focus attention on the sustainability of the businesses servicing and repairing these plug-in vehicles, warning there will be a ‘serious shortfall in adequately trained technicians’ when electrified cars become mainstream.
And the problem will be even greater when existing plug-in cars start to enter the used market more frequently and second-hand owners look beyond the franchised dealer networks and to more affordable local garages for vehicle maintenance.
There are currently only 18,000 public charging points across 6,500 locations across the nation for owners to use, the IMI warned
Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the IMI, said: ‘The recently published sales figures for electric and hybrid vehicles demonstrate that drivers are rapidly making the transition away from pure petrol and diesel engines.
‘However it’s vital that government recognises the new skills requirements needed to underpin the successful move to this new technology – which is entirely different to the skills required to service and repair internal combustion engines.
‘Without appropriate training vehicle technicians are at risk of serious harm or even death and employers may be in breach of Health and Safety regulations.
‘Government must incentivise and support businesses to invest in the training of their staff if they are to have the knowledge and skills to safely work on or around high voltage vehicle systems and technology.’
The government has already confirmed that the sale of new vehicles with petrol or diesel internal combustion engines will be banned from 2040, with some MP’s lobbying for an earlier introduction date of 2032 – which has already been mandated by the Scottish Parliament.
Transport and Environment said only electric cars should be sold across Europe from the early 2030s because there won’t be enough liquid fuel to power petrol and diesel machines
Green transport campaigners said this latter target is the one that will need to be hit in order for the UK to have meet its objective to have an entirely decarbonised road network by 2050.
This is one of the additional targets set out in the government’s Road to Zero policy announced earlier this year.
However, Transport and Environment said there simply won’t be enough low-carbon liquid fuels available that can be cost-effectively produced to power all of Europe’s cars.
‘Advanced biofuels are likely to supply just 3.5 per cent of transport fuels in 2030 and growth after this will be limited by available land and feedstock,’ said analyst Thomas Earl.
‘Synthetic fuels will be expensive and inefficient, requiring huge quantities of clean electricity – equivalent to almost 70 per cent of today’s total European electricity production – to power all cars in 2050.’
The EU is set to announce its 2050 Decarbonisation Strategy on 28 November, detailing how it will transition to a greener transport network
He added: ‘If we want to avoid dangerous climate change we need to shift the market for electric cars much faster than the proposed regulations.
‘Through reform of vehicle and fuel taxes, or the introduction of zero emission zones, governments have the tools to do this.’
The EU is set to announce its 2050 Decarbonisation Strategy on 28 November, detailing how it will transition to a greener transport network.
Transport is Europe’s biggest source of carbon emissions, contributing 27 per cent to the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with cars representing almost half of these CO2 outputs.
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