So what's the future for electric vehicles?

Published 31 October 2018
in New Vehicles
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 Everyone wants to know and it’s a simple enough question.

Because the Government has recently taken away some of its crucial support structure for Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles and Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Strange, really, when all it talks about is a clean air future.

But that clean air future is happening now. The Hyundai Kona EV, just released at a real-world RRP of £24,995, has a real-world range of 250 miles in the hands of real-world journos. So it’s already being dubbed the first EV that could be your ‘only car'.

That proves the point that while lithium ion battery tech is only increasing incrementally, it has improved beyond recognition over the past decade, while costs have tumbled. And it will continue to improve for at least another five years.

But the future does not matter for now. The Hyundai Kona (and indeed the rather brilliant electric black cab by LEVC, and Nissan’s latest Leaf, and others) mark the fact that the massive shift lies at our feet. It’s here, now, in 2018.

But contemplating the sun-lit EV uplands, there are some dark clouds generated by a central government that isn’t functioning in a joined up, grown up sort of way.

 

I'm talking about the Plug-in Car Grant. For all Government talk about clean air and its Road to Zero strategy, what does it take as its next step towards helping improve air quality?

Blow me if the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (ILEV) didn’t scrap two out of three Plug-in hybrid grants, while reducing the one for pure EVs by £1,000.

 That’s as close to a home goal as anything we’ve seen in 2018.

 

PHEV and EV vehicles have only crawled up the sales charts in the UK in recent years, now comprising just 4-6% of the national fleet. That’s not the moment to claim victory and withdraw a subsidy, but that’s what the Government has done.

And now, Chancellor Phil, has rolled in with a budget that was sort-of brilliant for drivers, in a sort-of 1980s kind of way, with £30 billion for new roads, fuel duty frozen for the ninth year in succession and £430 million to fix potholes and protect our suspension mounts.

But he never once mentioned climate change or air quality, or ‘Road to Zero’, his own government’s report, or indeed EVs. It was as if the future didn't exist. Twitter went red hot: how could he?

Goodness, he didn’t even do what he himself said he would do last time, which was to review the impact of the zero-emission van incentive together with enhanced capital allowances for zero-emission vans.

There was no mention of either in the papers published after the budget, as if the whole of UK PLC didn’t exist, fleet operators didn’t exist, the industry didn’t ever plan ahead and no one wanted change. Staggering, really, for a Government to offer such opaqueness when it had the opportunity to provide glittering clarity.

Still, there will be a review of the effect of WLTP emissions on benefit in kind company car tax. Thanks Phil.

 

Nothing about bringing forward benefit in kind taxation bands from 2020/21 to 2019/20. Such a step would have helped offset the loss of the PHEV grants  by lowering the taxation on ultra low emission vehicles.

 

As I said at the start, the ‘future’ of EVs is now. The trouble is, the Government seems to think it's still in the future.

 

 

By Ralph Morton, editor for Business Motoring.