Electric Vehicle Technology

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

What support her Department is providing for the development of electric vehicle technology.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

We have just announced up to £l billion of new funding to advance the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies. I am sure the House would want to know how that funding is being used. Part of it is being used by the supply chain for large-scale production of electric vehicles so that we scale up the production in the UK, and of course part of it will be used for vehicle research and development.

Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

I do not know whether you have had the opportunity to make a journey in one of the new electric London taxis, Mr Speaker, which are manufactured in my Rugby constituency by the London Electric Vehicle Company and which often provide people with their first experience of an electric vehicle. The company has just recorded its best ever sales month, with 352 taxis sold, and the fleet is improving the carbon footprint in our cities by preventing 6,800 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. What further can we do to improve the switch to electric?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am very pleased to hear that the London Electric Vehicle Company had record sales in September. I spoke to the CEO recently and was very impressed with their capability. I understand their sales have grown month on month since April. They have capacity to produce 20,000 vehicles a year and his message to this House when I spoke to him was, “Let’s get Brexit done.”

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

Some London boroughs have hundreds of electric vehicle charging points while whole towns in the north have none, but given the lack of public transport options in places such as St Helens would it not be economically and environmentally better to invest in places such as mine to get people out of their cars?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise this issue. Our grant scheme and the £400 million charging infrastructure investment fund will see thousands more electric vehicle charging points installed across the whole of the UK.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Conservative, East Hampshire

To accelerate take-up, first, we need to have more people having an electric vehicle in their consideration set, so alongside communications to consumers can the Minister look at the pivotal role played by dealers in getting more people to take a test drive?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

My right hon. Friend raises an important point. Different touch points with consumers are important. For example, when people go for a replacement tax on their car, they should be immediately alerted to the fact that, instead of paying that tax, they could pay for a new electric vehicle.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

Electric vehicles represent a fantastic opportunity to combat climate change and boost manufacturing jobs. That is why Labour is committed to investing £2.3 billion in three new battery gigafactories, £3 billion in support for manufacturing new car models, and £3.6 billion in our electricity grid and charging infrastructure, and we will also provide targeted interest-free loans for new electric cars for up to 500,000 people a year. We will do all that while retaining membership of the world’s largest customs union. Apart from a few ad hoc pots of money, the Government are proposing green licence plates. When it comes to climate change and manufacturing, is it not true that the Government are all hot air and no action?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The hon. Lady just reeled off a list, so I will reel off my own list of good news, starting with the fact that Government announced £1 billion to increase the capacity for electric car development. On 10 October, Nissan launched the new Juke model after investing £100 million in Sunderland. On 26 September, Jaguar Land Rover announced its latest investment in the Gaydon facility, close to my constituency. On 18 September, INEOS Automotive announced that its headquarters and assembly plant for its SUV will be based in Bridgend. BMW’s new MINI Electric launched in July. JLR has made a massive investment in electric engines at Castle Bromwich. On 20 March, Toyota announced a collaboration with Suzuki to make an electric version of its Corolla model. That is all real investment, not “hot air”. The Labour party would crash the economy, raise taxes and have nothing—nowt—to spend on the green economy.