The UK’s EV policy is ‘pursuing entirely different path’ to Europe, warns industry leader

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·2-min read

The government has been criticised for its approach to EV funding after a recent move that reduced the plug-in car grant.

Mike Hawes, CEO of industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the government’s approach will make it more difficult to stimulate demand while also warning the UK was ‘pursuing an entirely different path to the rest of Europe’ when it came to electric cars.

The Duke of Richmond, Goodwood
The Duke of Richmond speaks to media at Goodwood Motor Circuit, April 20.

Last month, the government reduced the plug-in car grant, which is designed to encourage buyers into zero-emission vehicles. The grant itself was cut from £3,000 to £2,500, while the price cap for eligible vehicles was brought down from £50,000 to £35,000, prompting some manufacturers to reduce prices on their EVs to make them eligible again.

The move was criticised at the time, with Hawes calling it ‘the wrong move at the wrong time’ as the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK from 2030, but sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles still make up a tiny percentage of the new car market.

Speaking on electric cars yesterday (April 20) at Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex, Hawes said: “It will become that much harder to get the allocation of [electric] vehicles into the country if we want to stimulate demand if we’re constantly on the back foot because we have a less competitive offering.

“So we need to see a range of support measures and incentives in place.

“We expect demand for EVs to rise pretty steeply, but even with that increase, when we get to 2030, we will not meet the total expectations that the government has to reach its climate change targets.”

In his speech, Hawes pointed to countries such as Germany and France, where incentives of up to £9,000 are available to encourage drivers to switch to zero-emission vehicles.

Meanwhile, several European nations have scrappage schemes in place to get more polluting vehicles off the road.