A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans should be brought forward eight years to drive the take-up of electric vehicles, MPs have said.
Ministers must also tackle a lack of charging points, which is one of the main barriers to people buying electric cars, warns the parliamentary Business Committee.
The call to ban ‘conventionally-powered’ cars in 2032 comes just days after the Government announced an end to grants for plug-in hybrid cars from next month, sparking angry criticism from the automotive industry and motoring groups.
Earlier the Government had outlined a goal for an end to sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, ministers stating that by that time all new cars and vans should be “effectively zero-emission”.
But the committee dubbed the targets as “vague and unambitious”, and described the lack of clarity on which vehicles will and will not be sold in 2040 as “unacceptable” for an industry trying to make investments.
The 2040 target puts the UK behind a range of countries including Norway, which is aiming for an end to combustion engine cars in 2025, and India, China, the Netherlands and Ireland with a 2030 goal and Scotland with a target of 2032.
The committee wants the target brought forward to 2032 to make the UK a world leader in electric vehicle (EV) development. But it has criticised the Government for leaving delivery of a national charging network to local authorities and private companies, and called for regulations to provide an extensive, reliable and standardised public system.
“The Government needs to get a grip and lead on co-ordinating the financial support and technical know-how necessary for local authorities to promote this infrastructure and help ensure that electric cars are an attractive option for consumers”, said committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves.
She added that rapid charge points in remote and rural areas should be subsidised by the Government.
The “sudden and substantial cuts” to grants for plug-in vehicles were slammed, the committee calling for current levels of support to be maintained.
“Electric vehicles are increasingly popular, and present exciting opportunities for the UK to develop an internationally competitive EV industry and reduce our carbon emissions,” Ms Reeves said.
“But, for all the rhetoric of the UK becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the Government’s deeds do not match the ambitions of their words.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that any plan to bring forward the ban would have to be matched with bold and decisive action from the Government to make hitting the new date possible.
“There are still significant barriers that are putting drivers off alternatively fuelled vehicles – these include the upfront cost, access to charging infrastructure, and ease and time to charge a vehicle,” he added.
Industry body Energy UK backed the plan. “(We) believe that an accelerated timetable for the rollout of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is both desirable and feasible,” said chief executive Lawrence Slade.
A Government spokesman said that the current plans would aim for between 50% and 70% of new car sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030, and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.
“We also outlined measures to bring forward a major uplift in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, paving the way for the widespread adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles,” the spokesman added.