Prime Minister Theresa May has further emphasised plans to put the UK at the “forefront of a 21st century transport revolution” by investing heavily in the automotive sector.
During today’s science and modern industrial strategy speech, May reiterated that the Government aims to encourage development in “design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles”.
The targets, first outlined earlier this year with the Road to Zero plan, include a prevention on the sale of pure petrol and diesel cars from 2040. The law change will only allow the sale of new cars capable of at least 50 miles of pure electric range.
May said the Government’s growing focus on the automotive industry relates in part to the fact that it is “one of our greatest success stories” and that it “continues to thrive and create good jobs across the country”.
“Technology is revolutionising how we power vehicles, how they are driven, how we navigate and how we access information about public transport,” she said. “Britain led the world into the railway age. We pioneered jet air travel.
“We can make our towns and cities cleaner, safer and more productive places to live and work. We can set a global standard for managing technological change to maximise economic and environmental benefits."
May added that the Government will “work with industry to achieve this ambition and share the benefits this opportunity presents”.
However, many industry insiders have hit out at recent government decisions that have directly affected the car industry, such as the increasing pressure on diesel cars via its introduction of raised tax rates. Diesel car sales have dropped by more than a third in recent months.
Jaguar Land Rover, for example, said the knock-on effect of the fall in demand was that 1000 agency staff workers would not have their contracts renewed.
Meanwhile, business secretary Greg Clark appeared to make a U-turn last week when he said diesel cars would remain important to meet wider CO2 targets.