Chancellor Jeremy Hunt missed an opportunity in the Spring Budget to address a slow-burning issue for the sector: electrification of the motor industry.
Yes, there are huge expectations for the sector to go green by 2030, but doing so will require a reliable and widely available charging network. So, what’s the plan for rolling this out? How should the private and public sector combine their efforts to manage the downscaling of the combustion engine while making provision for what comes next? Will there be support for electric vehicle (EV) charging? There was nothing in this Budget to address this.
This notable omission was commented on by key figures in the auto leasing and fleet management sectors.
Managing director of FleetCheck, Peter Golding found it “disappointing” that electrification was not mentioned. He said: “Industry bodies have been calling for this and it really does feel as though the government is letting our car and van manufacturing capacity drift away to other countries that are being more proactive.”
David Bushnell, director of consultancy and strategy, Fleet Operations, said that “the lack of any significant new measures to incentivise further electric vehicle (EV) adoption and infrastructure rollout signals a missed opportunity.”
“EV adoption remains in its infancy and with high energy costs continuing to impact drivers reliant on public charging networks, more must be done to achieve a timely transition to net zero transport. Cutting the public charging VAT rate, to match the rate for domestic electricity, would have been a good place to start,” he added.
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Paul Hollick, chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals, said that “for fleets, this was a Budget more noteworthy for what it didn’t include rather than what it did.
“We’d have liked to have seen measures announced ranging from the creation of an EV charging regulator through to national coordination on Clean Air Zones, as outlined in our recent tax and regulation manifesto. However, there was little content that showed the Government has been thinking about business road transport,” Hollick said.
Also, the motor finance industry learnt nothing further about the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate, an earlier government initiative to compel manufacturers to sell a certain proportion of (EVs) as 2030 approaches.
Nick Williams, the managing director of Lloyds Bank’s transport division, Lex Autolease, said: “With the upcoming Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate also incentivising manufacturers to bring more electric vehicles to the UK market, the call for an expanded charging network will be even greater, so the lack of support in today’s Statement is a big setback.
“We’re hopeful that the government will reveal more plans ahead of its implementation next year, or we risk impacting the longer-term uptake of electric vehicles as confidence in our country’s infrastructure waivers.”