UK falling behind on electric vehicle targets - MPs claim

The UK is failing to switch to electric cars quickly enough because the Government is not making sufficient effort to encourage drivers to make the change, MPs have said.

According to parliament’s environmental audit committee, ministers have not provided enough infrastructure or incentives to boost take-up of ultra-low emissions vehicles.

The claim comes despite recent statistics revealing the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) has risen by a third over the past year, according to figures form joint government and idustry campaign Go Ultra Low.

It had been predicted that electric vehicles would make up around 9% of the UK’s car fleet by 2020, though current forecasts suggest the actual figure will be half that.

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It comes amid a growing focus on the effect of diesel cars on levels of air pollution in the country, which are thought to cause around 50,000 deaths a year.

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Electric vehicles, which do not produce emissions at the point of use, are seen as playing a key role in helping to drive down the dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals present across the country.

The environmental audit committee, made up of a group of influential MPs, also said that air pollution in some places was breaching regulations.

It identified 38 clean air zones out of 43 that were surpassing the acceptable limits of polluting nitrogen oxide.

Calls are now being made by the MPs for the Government to “spell out more clearly” its strategy for sustainable transport.

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As it stands, ministers have not said what their next steps will be if the 9% target for ultra-low emissions vehicles is not met.

Estimates from the Department for Transport said take-up levels could fall as low 3% by the end of the decade.

According to the committee, this could mean the country “playing catch up” when it comes to meeting its pollution levels.

The MPs added that they had “no confidence” that predictions from the Committee on Climate Change of ultra-low emissions vehicle taking a market share of 60% by 2030 would be achieved.

Mary Creagh, who chairs the environmental audit committee said: “The uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) like electric cars is too low to meet the UK's climate change targets at the lowest cost to the public.

“Air quality targets that were supposed to be met in 2010 won't be hit until 2020 at the earliest.”

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