The UK government is today under significant pressure after refusing to acknowledge the recommendations of a Commons Select Committee with regards to the electric car market. This comes at a time when the UK government is publicly showing support for the electric car market while behind-the-scenes it seems a little reluctant to issue standards and sales forecast. What is going on?
Encouraging electric car sales
There is no doubt that governments around the world will play a major role in encouraging consumers to move to electric vehicles. The UK government has made encouraging noises over the last couple of years and issued a number of financial incentives but for some reason it is not willing to actively look to standardise charging point systems and payment systems together with issuing target sales for electric vehicles.
We can possibly understand the government’s reluctance to issue formal target sales for electric vehicles in the UK but why it is not willing to get actively involved in standardising charging point systems and payment systems is another matter. If these systems are not of a similar standard and a similar technology then there is the potential for confusion and mayhem in the marketplace.
Leading from the front
When you take into account the amount of tax the UK government, and indeed other governments around the world, collect from the sale of petrol and other similar fuels, there is obviously a need to address this potential income gap in the future. The UK government has issued a number of incentives to ensure the electric car market in the UK receives something of an injection of optimism in the short term but the long-term position is a little unclear.
Despite comments to the contrary there is no way that electric vehicle users of the future will escape the multitude of charges connected with travelling today. The government extracts a significant amount of income from the fuel market and in some shape or form this will have to be replaced when the almost inevitable move to electric vehicles gains more momentum. It would seem sensible for the government to issue a variety of standards across the board but so far there has been reluctance to do this.
Only a few days ago we saw Nissan introduce yet another leg to its UK business in the shape of a lithium ion battery facility in Sunderland. This facility will feed the ever growing need for power supplies in the EV market and has the potential to create a significant number of jobs in the UK. The government has been fairly helpful with regards to financial assistance in the past, in the shape of tax breaks and government subsidies, and no doubt Nissan can again expect to receive favourable assistance from the UK authorities.
If the UK government wakes up to the potential of electric vehicles then it could help to create yet another prosperous employment arena in the country. Nissan has invested a significant amount of money into the UK automotive industry and created a mass of jobs across the north-east. The potential and the ability to have the same influence over the electric vehicle power supply market could put the UK automotive industry on a different level.
It is uncertain why the UK government is publicly in favour of electric vehicles but behind-the-scenes it has refused to acknowledge the recommendations from an influential Commons Select Committee. It will be interesting to see how this situation works out because there is no doubt that the UK government has put itself in a very tricky situation. You could argue there are more pressing issues to consider in the short to medium term, such as the economy, but the job of any government around the world is to look forward to the future.