The Ranty Highwayman)
Four years ago, I wrote about the Government’s push for electric and so-called “ultra low emission vehicles” (ULEVs). There has been some media coverage of ULEV/ EV subsidy and so I thought it worth having another look at the subject.
When I last wrote in 2013, there was a budget of £400m available through the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) which was being used to provide grants towards private and commercial ULEVs which was due to end in 2015. Of course, this was under the previous Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition.
In short, the Government is putting its weight behind a future filled with electric (or at least low-emission) vehicles and autonomous operation. In many ways, this is no different to many other countries who are seeking to dump fossil-fueled vehicles such as the Dutch and Norwegians. The whole area is a multi-trillion market and one can see why the UK Government is pushing to be part of it, more so given the uncertainties around leaving the European Union.
On the one hand, we will probably be using motor-vehicles for the foreseeable future and so they may as well be electric. At the very least, the tail-pipe emissions problem in urban areas will be addressed, although there are still plenty of issues created by braking systems and the action of tyres on roads. On the other hand, this represents a push to maintain business as usual and in that I mean to continue with a car and lorry-based UK transport system and anyone using active or public transport be damned.
It was interesting to read concern raised about vehicle excise duty being changed from April this year which meant that many owners of “gas guzzlers” would be paying less VED, whereas those driving “cleaner” cars would pay more (zero-emission cars will still be exempt). Forgetting about the weird discrepancy, this is the Government realising that as cars get more efficient, VED revenues will fall. With fuel duty too, aside from the fuel tax escalator being removed, a switch to EV and ULEV vehicles is going to see revenue drop as well. I fully expect to see changes whereby EVs will attract VED and as for fueling EVs, it will be interesting to see what happens as they are really cheap to run. It will also be interesting to see what the traditional fossil fuel companies do in terms of production and divestment in the next decade as the current push must surely go against their traditional business model!