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[NEWS] Government must solve EV infrastructure problem, says SMMT

Government must solve EV infrastructure problem, says SMMT

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Industry trade body calls on government to address infrastructure issues and keep UK automotive competitive

The government must do what is necessary to accelerate electric vehicle infrastructure, even going so far as to mandate change, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Making a cry to government at its 104th annual industry dinner, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “This industry does ‘delivery’. We will decarbonise road transport – cars by 2035, buses likely earlier, HGVs likely only a bit later. 

“But as electric vehicle sales race ahead, on-street charging infrastructure is increasing slowly. We look to government to create the conditions – maybe mandate the conditions – to accelerate the infrastructure across the country as we need others to match our speed.”

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 16.6% market share for the year to date, double that of 2020, while a third of British-built cars are now electrified.

SMMT president and Horiba MIRA chairman George Gillespie said: “We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero-emission-capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now. We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist. 

“It is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes. This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.”

The SMMT also called for improved competitiveness in the UK, saying that, alongside the semiconductor crisis, the UK manufacturing sector is hindered by high energy prices, uncompetitive business rates and additional trade costs compared with competitors in mainland Europe and further afield.

It added that close collaboration between the industry and the government is critical if the industry is to remain internationally competitive. “Given that automotive manufacturing produces Britain’s most valuable export good and employs some 155,000 people in highly skilled, well-paid jobs across the country, the importance of retaining this sector is obvious,” said the SMMT.

At the dinner, SMMT also announced Alison Jones, Stellantis executive Vice President and UK country manager, as its 82nd chairman. She succeeds outgoing chairman, HORIBA MIRA boss George Gillespie, and becomes the SMMT's first female president. 

The event also celebrated this year's Autocar Drivers of Change winners. Autocar's editor-in-chief Steve Cropley welcomed the three finalists on stage to receive their trophies and a round of applause for their brilliant ideas.

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