Currently reading: Government must solve EV infrastructure problem, says SMMT
Industry trade body calls on government to address infrastructure issues and keep UK automotive competitive
Rachel Burgess
2 mins read
23 November 2021

The government must do what is necessary to accelerate electric vehicle infrastructure, even going so far as to mandate change, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Making a cry to government at its 104th annual industry dinner, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “This industry does ‘delivery’. We will decarbonise road transport – cars by 2035, buses likely earlier, HGVs likely only a bit later. 

“But as electric vehicle sales race ahead, on-street charging infrastructure is increasing slowly. We look to government to create the conditions – maybe mandate the conditions – to accelerate the infrastructure across the country as we need others to match our speed.”

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 16.6% market share for the year to date, double that of 2020, while a third of British-built cars are now electrified.

SMMT president and Horiba MIRA chairman George Gillespie said: “We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero-emission-capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now. We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist. 

“It is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes. This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.”

The SMMT also called for improved competitiveness in the UK, saying that, alongside the semiconductor crisis, the UK manufacturing sector is hindered by high energy prices, uncompetitive business rates and additional trade costs compared with competitors in mainland Europe and further afield.

It added that close collaboration between the industry and the government is critical if the industry is to remain internationally competitive. “Given that automotive manufacturing produces Britain’s most valuable export good and employs some 155,000 people in highly skilled, well-paid jobs across the country, the importance of retaining this sector is obvious,” said the SMMT.

At the dinner, SMMT also announced Alison Jones, Stellantis executive Vice President and UK country manager, as its 82nd chairman. She succeeds outgoing chairman, HORIBA MIRA boss George Gillespie, and becomes the SMMT's first female president. 

The event also celebrated this year's Autocar Drivers of Change winners. Autocar's editor-in-chief Steve Cropley welcomed the three finalists on stage to receive their trophies and a round of applause for their brilliant ideas.

Back to top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
CarNut170 24 November 2021

The government are mandating the change to EVs, it's up to the government to ensure the infrastructure is in place to support the change they are mandating - otherwise, why on earth are the mandating it?The UK vehicle fleet is one of the least polluting in the world, there is little need to murder ourselves to reduce emissions from personal transport when considering how to solve climate change - other than to score political points...

Andrew1 24 November 2021
Aren't you exaggerating a bit? Murder ourselves is a bit harsh. We are simply doing all we can where solutions exist and are at hand.
Theley 23 November 2021

This guys a broken record. One day he will say something positive.

I know Mike. Tell us how many of your members have reliable and accessible rapid chargers at their dealerships and how many staff they have trained to service the highly predictable growth in EVs out there.  

Peter Cavellini 23 November 2021

What's the SMMT contributing towards a better EV infrastructure?, isn't it in there interest?, instead of moaning about how bad their doing, how about being positive, reactive?