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Major businesses call for accelerated EV switchover as next step in UK’s green recovery

14 July 2020, 23:01 UTC 3 min read

Wednesday 15 July, London – The UK Electric Fleets Coalition, run by international non-profit The Climate Group, in partnership with founding member, BT Group – including Openreach – today calls on the UK Government to target 100% electric car and van sales by 2030.

The 21 members of the Coalition collectively operate over 400,000 cars and vans in the UK. The businesses are Anglian Water, BT, Centrica, DPD UK, ENGIE, Fleet Alliance, Foxtons, Hitachi Capital UK, Iberdrola (Scottish Power), Ingka Group (IKEA), LeasePlan, Mawdsleys, Mitie, Natwest Group, Octopus, Openreach, Orsted, OVO Energy, Severn Trent, Tusker and Unilever.

Globally, the 77 members of The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative have committed to switch over 4.5m vehicles to zero emissions and install EV charging at over 3,000 company locations by 2030.

As the UK government outlines plans to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis, and consults on bringing forward the UK’s EV switchover to 2035, or earlier if feasible, the Coalition is today recommending a comprehensive package of measures to boost the EV business case, stimulate EV manufacturing and strengthen the charging network. They include:

  • Set a 2030 target: 100% of new car and van sales to be fully electric by 2030 (with exceptions for the small number of vehicles where this may not be possible).
  • Stimulate supply to meet business demand: Introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate to require vehicle manufacturers to produce an annually increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles.
  • Drive demand: Extend grants for electric vehicles and charging points through to at least 2022, when EVs are expected to start competing on price with conventional vehicles.
  • Invest in infrastructure: Speed up the rollout of public charge-points across the UK for use by any payment system.

A full copy of the policy paper is available.

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group said: “We need to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis as we look ahead to next year’s COP26 climate summit. Scaling up EV manufacturing and the nationwide charge point network are both huge opportunities for jobs and growth in the UK. Businesses are making the switch themselves through our EV100 initiative and now they are coming together with a clear message to government: match our ambition and help us move to clean electric transport.”

Philip Jansen, BT Group Chief Executive, said: “We have an outstanding record in reducing carbon emissions and have plans to be a net zero emissions business by 2045. The switch to low and zero emissions vehicles is a key element in our carbon strategy and it’s great to see so many businesses coming on board to work towards a more sustainable, resilient, low carbon future.”

Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach said: “With the country’s second largest fleet of vans, I want Openreach to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to low carbon vehicles. But there are still some major hurdles to overcome. For example, the kinds of vehicles, scale of manufacturing, supply-chains and infrastructure needed to electrify large fleets like ours simply doesn’t exist today. So, we need Government support to make the transition faster and fuller, and the commitment to maintaining plug-in grants is a welcome first step.”

Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and roadside air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths every year. A growing body of evidence suggests that air pollution exacerbates the impacts and transmission of COVID-19. A rapid transformation of the UK’s vehicle stock from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric is a vital part of the solution for both public health and the climate emergency.