Sale of New Petrol and Diesel Cars and Vans

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:46 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Peter Kyle Peter Kyle Labour, Hove 12:46 pm, 4th July 2019

I am extremely grateful for my hon. Friend’s characteristically generous and insightful contribution. The Committee visited JLR—I was not on the visit—and the London Electric Vehicle Company plant. Indeed, the hon. Member for Rugby was a participant in that visit, for obvious reasons. I will talk a little later about that experience and the contribution that that company is making to the streets of London, our capital city.

The proof that driving an electric vehicle is an exhilarating experience and one that consumers enjoy is also borne out by evidence. In Norway, where 30% of new cars sold are electric, 96% of first-time buyers say that they would never consider going back to conventional cars. Evidence also shows that prior to buying an EV, potential customers have concerns about range anxiety. New electric car customers, however, report feeling liberated from petrol stations. Evidence shows that people who buy EVs love them and promote them to friends. People like me who have experience driving them soon aspire to own one.

Just as electric vehicles provide a great consumer experience, we should also see the opportunity they provide for British business, which has not only challenges but huge opportunities in this regard. British industry has already proven itself a world-leading EV maker with the Nissan Leaf, Europe’s best-selling electric car, which is made right here in Britain, in Sunderland.

Our fantastic start is not being sustained, however, and there is no time to waste if we are serious about using the conversion to electric as an opportunity for British industry. Low domestic demand, Brexit and unambitious policy have meant that Britain has lost out on the world-class manufacturing opportunities we should be snapping up. Honda is closing its car assembly plant in Swindon to make its electric cars in Japan. BMW, Vauxhall and Toyota are shipping their high-value parts, including batteries, from abroad rather than making them here. Once these global patterns are established, it will become really hard for British industry to break in.