The Government has rejected suggestions from a Commons select committee to improve the uptake and perception of electric cars in the UK. In a response to the Transport Select Committee’s report Plug-in Vehicles, Plugged in Policy?, the Government maintains that it is not necessary to establish targets for electric vehicle sales and that it is not the job of government to standardise charging points, connections and payment schemes.
Currently there are multiple charging schemes and connectors in use across the UK and Europe, and users of the Government’s Plugged in Places charging scheme have to register before using schemes in their area. Not all of the eight Plugged in Places schemes across the country are compatible.
Among the Select Committee’s recommendations were requests for the Government to explain how it will standardise the infrastructure used for plug-in vehicles, including the physical connections and the financial aspects to make it easier for drivers.
In its response, the Government said that while it sees “there are advantages to a single recharging plug solution… it is our stance that it is for the market and industry to decide what charging hardware and infrastructure will be.”
In the report’s conclusion, the Committee recommended that the Government “sets targets for the number of plug-in cars it expects to see on the road” by the next spending review. The Committee said this would enable the Government to assess the success of its low carbon vehicle strategy.
But the Government disagrees, citing the uncertainty over what it calls “market penetration” of electric vehicles as a barrier to setting targets.
The Committee also asked for clarification over the Government’s decision to increase the company car tax rate for low emission vehicles from 2015, a move that was met with disappointment from Vauxhall, Toyota and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The Committee said that this would create instability in the market, although the Government responded by saying tax issues were a matter for the Treasury, and that there were “continuing discussions within Government… to ensure that the fiscal regime supports the Government’s growth and environmental framework.”