Senior figures from the automotive industry have called for more “consistency” from ministers in response to the government’s decision to drop the level of the plug-in car grant.
Last week, the government downsized the financial incentive package offered to EV owners in the UK, reducing the grant from £3000 to £2500 and lowering the upper price limit for eligible vehicles from £50,000 to £35,000.
Jonathan Goodman, Polestar's UK chief executive and head of global communications, said that he wouldn’t like to see any further overnight changes: “The issue for me is consistency. If you have a programme in place to incentivise, you’re getting people looking consistently at that programme and considering it. Then to go from one minute to the next, where the incentive is no longer in place, confuses the consumer. We’ve dealt with forests of calls over the last week with people who just don’t understand if they’re impacted or not.
“We have to have a consistent approach to this to enable the manufacturers to plan - it’s already a very tight deadline - and therefore we’ve got to get that consistency. That would be my plea.”
It was a view echoed by others. Graham Grieve, chief executive of BMW UK, felt that clarity was lacking. Grieve made the case that the announcement “seems counterintuitive to the bold statements they’ve made ahead of [United Nations climate change conference] COP26… They’ve got to come up with a clear plan to incentivise consumers to move away from ICE to electric. Quite simply, electric cars are more expensive to manufacture and therefore they’re more expensive for consumers. The government needs to step in there. We’ve seen that incentives really do drive a change. With Norway, for me that would be the benchmark with a clear, 360deg plan to really drive the electric market.”
Grieve also felt further policy was required around electric charging infrastructure, saying “we’re a long way off making [off-street charging] happen. I don’t think it’s about benchmarking against other countries. If we’re going for a zero-emission new vehicle policy from 2030, we’re probably five or 10 years behind where we need to be in terms of charging infrastructure.”