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UK businesses urge govt to target 100% electric car, van sales by 2030

Highlights

Call for govt to drive demand, invest in infrastructure, stimulate supply

Coalition formed in June to promote faster switch to EVs

21 members collectively operate over 400,000 vehicles

New York — UK businesses belonging to the UK Electric Fleets Coalition, have called on the government to target 100% electric car and van sales by 2030 as the next step in the UK's green recovery.

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The coalition said July 15 it was recommending a comprehensive package of measures to boost the electric vehicle business case, stimulate EV manufacturing and strengthen the charging network.

The recommendations come as the government is outlining plans to "build back better" from the coronavirus pandemic and consulting with stakeholders about bringing forward the UK's EV switchover to 2035 or possibly earlier.

According to the coalition, transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and a "rapid transformation of the UK's vehicle stock from internal combustion engine to electric is a vital part of the solution for both public health and the climate emergency."

The coalition, which was launched on June 1, 2020 by international non-profit organization The Climate Group and BT Group, aims to promote a faster switch to EVs and has 21 members that collectively operate over 400,000 cars and vans in the country.

Besides BT, the members include Openreach, Anglian Water, Centrica, DPD UK, Engie, Fleet Alliance, Foxtons, Hitachi Capital UK, Iberdrola (Scottish Power), Ingka Group (IKEA), LeasePlan, Mawdsleys, Mitie, Natwest Group, Octopus, Orsted, OVO Energy, Severn Trent, Tusker and Unilever.

Besides, the 2030 100% EV target, the coalition's suggested measures include stimulating supply to meet business demand by introducing a zero-emission vehicle mandate to require vehicle manufacturers to produce an increasing percentage if zero-emission vehicles a year.

It also suggested that the government drive demand by extending grants for EVs and charging points to at least 2022, when EVs were expected to start competing price-wise with conventional vehicles.

The fourth measure suggested was infrastructure investment, such as speeding up the rollout of public charging points across the country using any payment system.

The Climate Group CEO Helen Clarkson pointed out that scaling up EV manufacturing and the nationwide charge point network would both allow for jobs and growth opportunities 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," she said.

Globally, the EV100 initiative has 77 members that have committed to switch over 4.5 million vehicles to zero emissions and install EV charging at over 3,000 company locations by 2030.

BT Group chief executive Philip Jansen said BT had 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," he said.

Openreach CEO Clive Selley said his company had the country's second largest fleet of vans, so he wanted 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," he said.

The coalition members are not the only UK businesses electrifying their fleets. On July 6, British Gas made the largest EV order for a commercial fleet in the UK when it ordered 1,000 of General Motors unit Vauxhall's new electric Vivaro-e vans. British Gas owner Centrica has committed to electrifying its 12,000 strong fleet by 2030.