UK launches new ultra low emission vehicles strategy; focus on nurturing the industry
5 September 2013
UK Transport Minister Norman Baker launched the government’s latest strategy—Driving the Future Today: A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK—to advance the ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry with a focus on economic development in the UK. The government’s vision, said Minister Baker, “is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.”
The principles behind the strategy include focusing on inward investment and the supply chain; technological neutrality, i.e., specifying the bulk of policies in output rather than technology terms; and addressing market failure. Accordingly, a great deal of effort and funding will flow to programs to incent adoption and to establish plug-in charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructures.
It is not Government’s role to identify and support specific technologies at this early stage. Ultimately, the mass market transition to ULEVs will happen through industry developing and bringing products to market and consumers deciding which products they wish to buy. The emerging consensus in the automotive industry is that a portfolio of solutions will be required to decarbonise road transport.
The internal combustion engine will continue to play a role in road transport for many years, with improvements in fuel efficiency and increased hybridisation providing incremental improvements in CO2 emissions. As emissions targets become tighter and technologies continue to develop we expect that ULEVs, including plug-in vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, will take an increasing share of the market for cars and vans. Sustainable biofuels have a role to play in delivering decarbonisation and could play a key role in sectors such as aviation and freight where there are few alternatives to liquid fuel and electrification is far more challenging. There is consensus that electrification will be at the core of the longer term decarbonisation of cars and vans.
This strategy focuses mainly on cars and vans as they present the biggest opportunity for the early adoption of ULEVs. We are, however, also keen to encourage the adoption of ULEV technologies in other vehicle sectors from heavy duty vehicles and buses to powered two wheelers and other small vehicles.—Driving the Future Today
The government intends for the long term strategic approach to deliver:
a growing fleet of, and private markets for, ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs);
a network of charging points and other infrastructure making ULEVs an attractive proposition;
the development of world class skills and facilities for the development of ULEV technologies leading to global export; and
a smarter electricity grid to benefit vehicle owners and the electricity system.
To reach those objectives, the government outlined 5 main aims:
Supporting the early market for ULEVs. Among the programs considered for this are plug in grants or other consumer incentives to provide certainty for investors and consumers; raising awareness of the benefits of ULEVs with a government and manufacturer-run campaign; and encouraging higher uptake in the public sector.
Shaping the necessary infrastructure. The government foresees providing investment for the installation of chargepoints in homes, railway stations and public sector car parks and rapid charge points for longer journeys; and exploring options for a new network of hydrogen refueling stations.
Securing the right regulatory and fiscal measures. The government will maintain tax incentives for the purchase of ULEVs until at least 2020; clarify the tax position on ULEVs and providing more information for fleet managers on costs; and work to secure “ambitious but realistic” EU emissions targets.
Investing in UK automotive capability. The government will work with the Automotive Council to develop and strengthen the ULEV supply chain and discussing with industry on where to target research and development funding by working with partners to maximise the benefits for the UK from the move to ULEVs. The government is also offering a £10-million prize (US$16 million) to develop a new long-life battery for next generation ULEVs.
Preparing the energy sector by ensuring the forthcoming national household roll-out of smart meters will support plug-in vehicle charging.
In July 2013, the government announced a funding commitment of more than £500 million (US$781 million) from 2015 until 2020 to continue to support the growing market for ULEVs. This is combined with the existing £400 million (US$625 million) support to 2015 and the recent announcement of the establishment of an advanced propulsion center.
The government is therefore proposing an immediate period of dialogue with industry and other stakeholders to help shape the £500-million package of support for ULEVs in the 2015-2020 period. It will launch a call for evidence later this year to inform the development of this package of support, including consumer incentives. This will consider the balance of support between workstreams and plot the path to the government’s exit from subsidies.
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