Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:43 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow Conservative, Taunton Deane 4:43 pm, 1st February 2017

I will leave the Minister to come up with some answers on that.

I have been having discussions with a company called EV Hub Global, which has a 21st century idea: a hub —a filling station—for electric cars, run on a membership basis. We cannot increase our use of electric cars by the numbers that have been predicted unless we have the right infrastructure in place to refuel them. At the moment, there are 1,000 rapid chargers available in the UK and approximately 100,000 electric vehicles, and 50,000 taxis have got to be off the road by 2020. If they are all going to go electric, and if we are all going to buy electric cars, we have to have a framework in place to recharge them. Those hubs can help.

People I have talked to in the industry suggest that we should focus on fleet vehicles first—buses, taxis, vans and lorries—and then the domestic car market will follow. I appreciate that we have to be very careful not to create economic difficulties for businesses that use vans; it is a very fine line.

Networks are important, and ideas for incentivising fleet businesses to convert to electric vehicles are crucial. Our electric charging facilities have to get faster. People do not want to spend an hour charging up—they want to spend 30 minutes or less—so we need innovation to help that. Equally, we need storage for the charging facilities so that they do not have an adverse impact on or disrupt the grid. Charging hubs or extra facilities need to be where we most need them, so we should focus on cities and airports first. There will be a new runway at Heathrow, so it will be important to focus on that. We must plan how we will work these ideas into towns such as Taunton, which has just been given green town status, to reduce high-emission cars. There are some big opportunities here.

I again thank my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire for bringing this subject to our attention and for giving us the opportunity to speak. There are huge opportunities, so we should be positive about the world of hybrid and electric cars, but the framework has to be in place. I very much welcome the Minister’s view on how he will enable that. Over and above everything else, we have to tackle this dreadful air pollution.