Lords call for “rapid recharge” in EV strategy

The Environment and Climate Change Committee of the House of Lords has published its report ‘EV strategy: rapid recharge needed’.

It says progress in EV take-up is not happening fast enough, and major barriers remain.

In the report it points out EVs make up about only three per cent of all cars currently on UK roads, they are still more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts and the availability of public chargepoints across the UK is highly variable They add many consumers face considerable anxiety around whether and where they will be able to charge EVs reliably, affordably, and quickly.

The committee says it heard calls from a range of witnesses for clearer communication and more leadership from the Government. It adds that the concern the Government expressed about the scale of misinformation has not been matched by commensurate urgency in tackling it.

The report recommends tackling the disparity in upfront costs between electric and petrol and diesel cars, by introducing targeted grants to support consumers buying affordable models.

It wants to “turbo-charge the charging infrastructure rollout” by reviewing what it calls outdated and disproportionate planning regulations, and tackling delays in the rollout of key public funding programmes.

It also wants to ensure charging is reasonably priced, convenient, and reliable by equalising VAT rates for domestic and public charging. The Lords call for investment in UK recycling to ensure that recycling is undertaken by responsible operators, and that the UK is able to recoup as many of the critical materials contained in EV batteries as possible for its own domestic production.

The Chair of the inquiry, Baroness Parminter, said: “Surface transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector for CO2, with passenger cars responsible for over half those emissions. The evidence we received shows the Government must do more – and quickly – to get people to adopt EVs. If it fails to heed our recommendations the UK won’t reap the significant benefits of better air quality and will lag in the slow lane for tackling climate change.”

Reacting, RAC head of policy Simon Williams told Highways News: “We welcome this important and far-reaching report from the House of Lords and urge the Government to take the recommendations it makes seriously. 

“We have long argued that mass uptake of EVs – which is the Government’s aim – depends on prices falling to make them the natural choice for more people, so we are particularly pleased to see the Committee supporting the introduction of targeted grants for new electric cars, aimed at the more affordable end of the market. 

“We believe the UK was too hasty in scrapping the plug-in car grant as it did lead to more lower-priced models being introduced. Without further financial support, it will be a long time before the majority of drivers will be able to afford to make the switch to electric.

“The Committee rightly acknowledges the important role the 2023 Public Charge Point Regulations will play in ensuring drivers benefit from good quality public charging infrastructure in the future, and we’re pleased to see its suggestion that elements of the UK’s first Public Charging Charter – which we developed alongside the FairCharge campaign – could form the basis of a future review of them.

“The unequivocal support for VAT to be charged at the same 5% rate whether a driver is charging at home or at a public charger also now piles yet more pressure on the Treasury to correct this bizarre anomaly. As things stand, the current mismatched VAT rates are an unnecessary barrier to switching to an electric car for the estimated third of people who can’t charge an EV at home and who wholly rely on the public charging network.

“We very much look forward to the Government’s response to this report and its explanation of what else it is going to do to ensure as many drivers are able to benefit from running an electric car as possible.”

Read the report here.

(Picture – House of Lords/William – stock.adobe.com)

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