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London — The UK government is to consult on bringing forward the 2040 deadline for the sale of conventional vehicles, Minister of State at the Department for Transport George Freeman said Tuesday.

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It would seek to "more than double" the number of electric vehicle rapid charge points by 2024, and "harness the extraordinary power of digitalization" to make it easier for people to choose a green route to work, the minister said.

"We need to show tomorrow's buyers of EVs that we're building for them, that is why we will consult on bringing forward the 2040 target to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars," he said.

Speaking at the launch of recommendations by the EV Taskforce in London, Freeman said he would act to remove silos between government agencies and organisations to drive coherent transport policy.

"As well as asking industry what its strategy is for getting to net zero emissions, I will be taking a place-based approach to tackling emissions, asking: where are the 10 worst road junctions for carbon emissions? Where are the 10 worst airports? The 10 worst ports? Then we can start to lean in on those, making sure all relevant agencies are working together," he said.

"The prime minister's instruction is to get to work fast, and I want to be able to announce a series of tangible, specific measures to drive the acceleration of decarbonisation at November's COP meeting," to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow, Freeman said.

The goal was to make the UK a center of transport innovation, leading in R&D, test beds and digitalization expertise, aligned in a regulatory framework "about to be announced shortly," the minister said.

This would be twinned with a "bold devolution" strategy, "putting power in the hands of people, households and communities" to make sustainable choices.

The UK has around 30,000 publicly available EV charge points, EV Taskforce Chairman Philip New said.

Free power

The taskforce, set up by the government and comprising 350 organizations, has proposed 21 actions to be taken by government and industry to enable integration of EVs.

"Under certain circumstances, the introduction of smart charging could enable a typical motorist to enjoy very low, or even zero, motoring energy costs, potentially saving GBP70 per month or more," New said, adding that some zero and low cost off-peak EV tariffs were already available.

Default smart charge

Taskforce member Sam Hollister of association Energy UK drew attention to a proposal requiring private EV charge points to charge smartly by default, making smart charging an opt-out as opposed to an opt-in function by 2021.

"This is to secure greater participation in smart charging -- as it stands the government will require private chargers to be smart, but users have to opt in to the function," Hollister said. "It must remain easy for users to opt out of smart charging, either by changing their preferences or for one-off instances," he said.

Maximizing the number of smart meter installations before or alongside installation of charge points was another recommendation, opening the way to potential earnings from flexibility markets, he said.

This led to a third recommendation in the area of rewarding EV drivers for charging smartly, with the taskforce urging government and Ofgem to ensure existing markets for flexibility are made accessible for EV users, and new markets for flexibility can compete with traditional networks and wider whole electricity system solutions by 2023 at the latest.

UK registrations of pure electric vehicles jumped to a record high in 2019, up 144% on the year to 37,850, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed earlier this month.

EVs' UK market share of 1.6% was "still tiny and underlines the progress needed to reach the 50%-70% share the government envisages in the next 10 years," the SMMT said.