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 very grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker. You will be pleased to hear that I have got my speech down to 12 minutes. Interventions allowing, I will crack on.

My hon. Friend makes another very good point. It is great that we are making batteries in this country and I thank the Government for launching the Faraday challenge, which is important in inspiring and nurturing the sector, but we need to do a lot more. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The ambition of operators needs to be matched by the ambition of the Government for the electrical vehicle infrastructure itself. Otherwise, it will not succeed.

Right now, trends are emerging globally. We therefore have a window of opportunity that we cannot afford to lose. We must not miss out on this opportunity to establish Britain as a world leader in design, manufacture, assembly, and distribution for electric vehicles and their component parts. Industry cannot do that alone. As the interventions I have taken prove, the industry needs the Government to be an active and generous partner at these nascent stages of one of the world’s most significant emerging consumer trends.

Increasingly, electrified transport will become a normalised part of British life. People will experience it for themselves regularly from now on. As they do so, suspicion of its practicality will fall away. For example, in just 18 months’ time there will be 9,000 fully electric black cabs on the streets of London. As part of our inquiry, we visited the London EV Company and saw for ourselves the cutting-edge skills and technology being deployed by this great Coventry-based firm. Its product sets new standards, raising the bar on passenger comfort. Cab drivers love it, too. Next month, Brighton and Hove takes delivery of its first fully electric bus, and London already has several on the roads. When I was walking through Westminster a little while ago, I heard an extraordinary squeaking noise. I turned around and there was a double-decker bus. The only thing I could hear was the squeaking of the tires as the bus made its way down the road. These are extraordinary innovations, which will transform not only our ability to tackle climate change, and the passenger and driver experience, but our lives in cities, because of the lack of the noise pollution that goes along with the combustion engine.

Our Government have a target of “almost every car and van” being zero emission by 2050, and for new cars and vans to be “effectively” zero emission by 2040. Our Committee found several faults with those targets. First, the phraseology used by the Government leaves plenty of room for interpretation. It is too vague to have bite. Secondly, the target dates themselves are miles behind other nations. China, India and Norway will all phase out petrol and diesel vehicles over the next decade, so why cannot we? Perversely, we are not even managing to beat countries within our own United Kingdom—Scotland has a target of 2032. Moreover, the motor manufacturers themselves are not hanging around for our targets. Honda will be producing electric-only vehicles within seven years, Porsche by 2030.

All those factors lead me to believe that when it comes to electric vehicles, the ambition of consumers, operators and manufacturers is outstripping that of our Government. If the UK is serious about being an EV world leader, as our Government claim to be, we must bring forward a clear, unambiguous target to achieve zero emissions from cars and vans by 2032. To achieve that target, Government will need far more ambition not just in its rhetoric, but in its action on the ground.

We need a revolutionary approach to charging infra- structure —not the incremental one that we have right now.