SMMT calls for wider EV investment

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that the industry has invested about £10.8bn in electrification since 2011, and is now urging other stakeholders to match this commitment to zero emission mobility.

It said the £10.8bn figure only accounts for public announcements, meaning real investments will be even higher.

In Britain’s first ‘electric decade’, kicked off by a £420m investment in Sunderland for the UK’s first mass-produced battery electric car, more than 10 vehicle manufacturers have invested in communities across the country to create jobs and to design, engineer and build the cleanest, greenest vehicles for domestic and export markets.

Alongside cars, the UK also produces electric vans, buses and trucks, as established manufacturers and new entrants have invested in production.

The SMMT said that despite this, private motorists accounted for just a third of new plug-in registrations in 2021, with uptake far higher among businesses and fleets, which benefit from generous fiscal incentives. Conversely, purchase incentives have been rolled back dramatically over the past year, with the UK’s EV adoption now falling behind some European markets which offer more attractive incentive packages.

It said that further growth depends as much on chargepoint provision as affordability, with the SMMT calling for a nationally co-ordinated, locally delivered infrastructure plan, with binding targets for chargepoints that match those imposed on vehicle manufacturers.

Furthermore, a vibrant, well-supported market would help attract greater industrial investment, creating jobs and supporting economic growth. Gigafactory investment is essential if the UK is to achieve the 60GWh capacity it needs by 2030, a capability that would support the production of around one million electric vehicles a year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The UK automotive industry has set out its intent – to meet the challenge of net zero – and has backed that ambition with cash, investing massively during Britain’s first electric decade. As we enter the second, the stakes are higher, with some of the world’s toughest regulation coming, regulation that will seek to determine the pace of change in a market constantly buffeted by headwinds.

“But mandates on manufacturers alone will not drive the market. Delivering net zero needs a competitive industry and a competitive market. We need a holistic strategy with binding targets on chargepoint provision, attractive fiscal and purchase incentives, and a reliable, accessible and affordable user experience. We need a universal right to charge electric vehicles, for all drivers, wherever they live, wherever they travel and whatever their needs.”