BEIS Committee to investigate electric vehicle market

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee is to look at the role of electric vehicles in the transition to a low carbon economy and as part of the government’s recently published industrial strategy.

In a new short inquiry, the committee will examine barriers to the market’s development and the support it needs to progress and consider how government can optimise electric vehicles. MPs will look at charging infrastructure as well as purchase costs and incentives to increase electric vehicle sales.

The government’s road transport decarbonisation strategy and its ability to respond to potentially disruptive shifts in the market, such as the emergence of driverless cars, will also be scrutinised. The inquiry will cover all electric road vehicles, including buses, HGVs, cars, motorcycles and vans.

Iain Wright MP, chair of the committee, said: “If the UK is to meet its decarbonisation goals and move successfully to a prosperous low carbon economy, then a thriving electric vehicles market is vital.

“Our inquiry will follow on closely from our recent investigation into industrial strategy.  Its focus is to assess how the Government’s approach to ‘picking winners’, in this case electric vehicles, can best exploit the opportunities arising from this technology as a means of enhancing the strengths of the UK automotive industry as well as moving to a low carbon economy.  It will take a close look at the factors holding back the electric car market and examine options for how it can be better supported.”

The Committee is inviting submissions on written evidence on the following issues by Thursday 13 April 2017 via the inquiry webpage:

  • What are the key barriers to development of the UK’s electric vehicle market?
  • Does the Government’s Industrial Strategy sufficiently address the challenges and opportunities for electric vehicles?
  • What support for purchase costs should the Government provide after 2018, in response to the changing costs of electric vehicles?
  • How best can the Government ensure that there is consistent provision of charging infrastructure across the country?
  • Is the Government’s road transport decarbonisation strategy sufficiently flexible to adapt to potentially disruptive market trends such as driverless cars? How might these impact requirements for, and use of, charging infrastructure?

This inquiry is expected to feed into a broader innovation inquiry due to be launched in the coming month. More information about  the inquiry is available on the committee’s website.

In a separate development, the government announced a new £23 million fund to accelerate the take up of hydrogen vehicles, including hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

Hydrogen fuel providers will be able to bid for funding in partnership with organisations that produce hydrogen vehicles to help build hydrogen infrastructure, including fuel stations. A competition will be launched this summer, and will invite proposals from public organisations, businesses and hydrogen operators. The government will provide match funding for successful bidders as part of its plans to cut carbon emissions, improve air quality and deliver economic opportunities for the UK.

Transport minister John Hayes said: “The transition to zero emission road transport is both inevitable and desirable as it will improve air quality in many of our towns and cities. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play a vital role alongside battery electric vehicles to help us cut harmful emissions.

“We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take up of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. That’s why we’re providing support to give interested parties the confidence to continue to invest in this new emerging technology to help us achieve our ambition for almost all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040.”

Related content:

The gas, electricity, transport balancing act: ITM Power chief executive Graham Cooley spoke to Janet Wood about using the gas and transport fuel networks to help balance the power system.

The New Power Interview: Tim Payne from InstaVolt tells New Power that government projections that there will be two million electric cars on the road by 2020 are understated.

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