In a new report released on Tuesday, February 6, a House of Lords committee warns that there is a severe risk to the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) from higher purchasing costs, inadequate charging infrastructure, and disinformation.
The Environment and Climate Change Committee is urging the government to implement a number of policies to encourage the changeover to electric power in its report, “EV strategy: rapid recharge needed.”
This entails addressing the difference in up-front expenses between EVs and petrol and diesel vehicles as well as considering targeted subsidies to encourage the purchase of new electric vehicles.
The committee, which heard testimony from a wide spectrum of witnesses, also urges the government to investigate ways to encourage the sale of used electric cars, such as creating a “battery health standard.”
Additionally, the ministry requests that road taxes be changed to provide a clear guidance on future motoring expenses; that the 20% VAT rate applied to public charging be reduced to 5% in line with domestic electricity; that consumers be given a positive picture of the EV transition; and that thorough, accurate, and understandable information be promoted.
During the inquiry, the government stated that it was worried about false information and cited a “concerted campaign of misinformation” concerning electric vehicles that had occurred recently.
Richard Bruce, director of transport decarbonisation at the Department for Transport (DfT), told the committee: “I do think there has been an impact from a concerted campaign of misinformation over the last 14 months or so that has been pushing consistent myths about EVs that people absorb, and which is reflected in their appetite (for purchasing EVs).
“There is an anti-EV story in the papers almost every day. Sometimes there are many stories, almost all of which are based on misconceptions and mistruths, unfortunately.”
The committee is urging ministries to be more proactive and take the lead in presenting consumers with a favourable picture of the EV transition and in encouraging comprehensive, clear, authoritative, accurate and balanced information.
It states that in order to deliver accurate, reliable, and authoritative information, the government should create a communication plan in coordination with business partners and consumer advocacy groups. This might expand on earlier achievements, such the Go Ultra Low website.
Baroness Parminter, chair of the inquiry, 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.”
The committee also wants the Government to accelerate the rollout of the UK’s charging infrastructure by: extending Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) funding for another three years; consulting on offering a ‘right to charge’ for tenants and leaseholders in multi-occupancy buildings; reviewing planning regulations to ensure that the rollout of EV infrastructure is not unduly delayed by out-dated regulation; and consulting on mandating workplaces with designated car parking spaces to install EV charge points.
Lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates have been described as “the single most effective intervention to date” by the committee for encouraging the adoption of EVs.
According to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), 43% of all new leased cars during the same period were fully electric, compared to 91% of new salary sacrifice cars that were battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the first quarter of 2023.
The Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England told the committee that salary sacrifice “remains the one existing Government policy that is having a positive impact on the uptake of EVs, and we have seen the increase in popularity of this option”.
James Court, chief executive of EVA England, said: “EVA England has been calling on the Government to improve both access to and infrastructure for EVs across the UK, and we are glad to see that today’s report shows we are being heard.
“It is essential that the Government legislate to tackle the disparity in cost between EVs and petrol cars, and that charge point infrastructure is fairly priced and easily accessible.
“The report makes strong policy recommendations to achieve both of these essential goals, and EVA England supports these and encourages the Government to implement without delay.”
The committee was also urged to extend salary sacrifice, maybe by requiring employers with more than 50 workers to participate in the programme.
It came to the conclusion that the government needed to plan for the gradual reduction and elimination of the low BIK tax rates.
Quentin Willson, FairCharge founder, said: “FairCharge has been saying that the Government is falling behind on electrification, sending out mixed messages to consumers and not correcting the many myths and misinformation out there.
“With one million EVs now on our roads there are simple and relatively inexpensive levers that the Government can use to increase adoption further.
“An official battery state of health certificate on used EVs is a good idea as is cutting the 20% VAT on public charging to 5%. We need a government EV champion to spur on growth and investment before it’s too late.”