On Oct 12th Government Demonstrates how it’s “Road To Zero Strategy” (To lead the world in zero emission vehicle technology) … is A Road To Nowhere.



On the 11th September, during the inaugural Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, the Prime Minister Theresa May made several bold statements, championing Britain as a Global leader in zero emission vehicles, with it’s “Road to Zero Strategy”.

Bold assertions on the UK’s intentions and strategy for zero emission vehicles

Here are just a few extracts from the Prime Minister’s presentation:-

  • “Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are backing the industries and technologies of the future”.
  • “How we accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles – and ensure cleaner air for all our people – is one of the most pressing issues in modern transport”.
  • “That is why I have set this country an ambitious mission. To put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be, effectively, zero emission by 2040”.
  • “Our Road to Zero Strategy is the most comprehensive plan globally – mapping out in detail how we will reach our target for all new cars and vans to be, effectively, zero emission by 2040 “.

Fast Forward >>  Just 4 Weeks Later … And it appears to be a totally different story, with a reverse on incentives to purchase plug-in cars? (Industry reaction Below)…


A lesson in:-

Sending the wrong message to confuse people concerned about air pollution, would-be electric car drivers and car manufacturers.

How ironic, (and confusing) that on the 11th October, just one month after making clear it’s commitment towards zero emission vehicles, the Government announced that the current cash incentives (available since 2011), to encourage people to buy electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were to be slashed… How very dis-couraging,.. especially as it coincided with a 42,5% downturn in diesel car sales, talk about sending out the wrong message…  and if “The Road to Zero” is indeed a Strategy, what part of the master-plan does this support?

As if to make sense, or justify the removal of the retail subsidy and another month on … On November 9th, news was released stating that mileage records showed that many employees aren’t even charging the Plug-in hybrids, they were just being added to fleets due to the subsidy and tax perks on offer over ICE vehicles. This created the biggest markets for PHEVs in Europe, and added to the stress put on (mostly free) public-facing charging infrastructure. 

This could make some sense except for the fact that along with the complete removal of retail subsidy for PHEVs the subsidy for pure electric vehicles was also reduced by £1000… They missed a clear opportunity to demonstrate at least some grasp of coherent policy, why not simply take the £2,500 subsidy from the PHEV and further incentify pure electric vehicles by adding that to the existing £4,500, rather than cutting that to £3,500? This would also be more in line with World leaders in EV uptake Norway, who have a much higher uptake of BEVs than PHEVs.


More Incentives needed and More Infrastructure – (Not Less).

Norway vs UK 

If the uptake of zero emission vehicles are to become mainstream – More incentives are required – NOT less. Britain needs to be looking to leading EV-Adoptive countries like Norway (a country about the size of Scotland) which has a vastly superior charging infrastructure to the UK, with over 80,000 public-facing chargers, while the UK has a measly 18,000.

So what put the spark in Norway’s electric car revolution?

Norway offers some of the most generous range of subsidies in the World to boost electric vehicle uptake, so much so that last year more than half of new Norwegian car sales were electric or hybrid.

Norway not only encourages uptake of the purchase and ownership of electric vehicles it discourages petrol and diesel cars. Norway also realises that the initial price can remain the biggest hurdle.

Cost Incentives

A VW e-Golf gets imported to Norway at around £8,500 dearer than a petrol equivalent. After the Norwegian tax incentives have worked their magic the e-Golf works out around £2,500 cheaper than the petrol – and what’s more – works out about £3000 per year less to run.

The end result of all this is the exponential adoption of plug-in vehicles…

Emulate What Works

So taking Norway as a successful working model, how can we in Britain accept Government policies that entirely conflict with this success, it confounds common sense for Theresa May to state in September: “We are taking significant strides forward. Our electric, UK-manufactured cars account for one-in-five sold in Europe”, and then, exactly one month later cut the retail incentives on the purchase price of electric vehicles in the UK, this hardly supports her claim “To put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles.

A Road to Nowhere?

How can we reconcile taking “significant strides forward” and then effectively take a huge step back? There is absolutely no point in coming up with grand ’schemes’ such as “The Road to Zero Strategy” only to undermine them with almost immediate contradictory policies, steering us on a road to nowhere.

© 2018 Tim Scrafton (The Connect Consultancy)