Miliband: I want to spearhead electric car revolution… but I do not own one

Patrick Daly and Alan Jones, PA
·3-min read

Ed Miliband has admitted he does not own an electric car as he looks to spearhead a “revolution” to make owning a zero emission vehicle an “option for all.”

Labour’s shadow business secretary made the admission on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, declaring that lockdown had got in the way of his family’s planned electric vehicle purchase.

Asked whether he had an e-car, the former party leader said: “I haven’t yet, it is a work in progress.

“We were actually on our way to buying one before lockdown – it is going to happen, I promise you.

“I have bought an electric bike but it [the electric car] is on its way.”

Mr Miliband said he was “pushing to make it accessible” for more families to own an electric vehicle before 2030 when the Government’s proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is due to come into force.

In a speech in London on Thursday, he called for interest-free loans to be offered for new and used electric vehicles to those on low to middle incomes to remove the upfront cost barrier.

Mr Miliband also pressed call for a quicker rollout of charging points on streets, targeting areas such as Yorkshire, the North West and the West Midlands.

Explaining his campaign, Mr Miliband told GMB: “It is the way we’ve got to go for climate reasons – this is the point.

“This change is coming, this change can benefit our country – I want to be part of that change.

“Like other consumers, there are barriers and we’ve got to break down those barriers.”

Asked whether Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had switched to an electric car, Mr Miliband said: “I don’t know which vehicle he drives, you’ll have to ask him.”

Ed Miliband said charging points for electric vehicles needed to become more widely available
Ed Miliband said charging points for electric vehicles needed to become more widely available (John Walton/PA)

In his speech, which has been welcomed by Unite union, the former energy secretary also called for part-financing of the creation of three new gigafactories by 2025, providing greater security for the sector and shoring up Britain’s global leadership in the electric vehicle market.

Constructing gigafactories is crucial for the future of the automotive sector, especially in light of the trade deal with the EU, according to Labour.

Mr Miliband said in his speech: “We need to make electric vehicle ownership affordable for people with lower incomes not just the better off.

“While the lifetime cost of an electric car will soon be less than the lifetime cost of a petrol and diesel car, that doesn’t solve the upfront cost problem.

“By providing a long-term interest free loan, we enable people to better afford the upfront cost and then, as they recoup the savings from the lower running costs of the electric vehicles, pay it back.

“They win by being able to go electric, we all win by cutting air pollution and accelerating the green transition and stimulating the market.

“We propose these loans are available for secondhand electric cars, too.”

The Government said it was investing up to £2.8 billion in driving the switch to electric vehicles and working with industry to support the installation of thousands of charge points.

A spokesman said: “Last year, SMMT [Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders] stats show more than one in 10 cars sold in the UK had a plug, showing that the electric vehicle revolution is already happening up and down the country.”