Electric Vehicles and Bicycles

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:27 pm on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Infrastructure and Energy) 5:27 pm, 9th May 2018

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. Like everybody else, I commend Andrew Selous for introducing the debate. He spoke really well and knowledgeably, and gave a fair and balanced presentation. He said it is his third debate on electric cars, so I would like to ask him how he goes about achieving his tabling success—it is a tip I could maybe use for the future. I have spoken in every one of those debates. I served on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill Committee, as did he, and I see a lot of familiar faces here from those debates and from the Bill Committee.

I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman’s point that 2040 is too far away on the horizon for the phasing out of the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. I agree with the point about more ambitious stage targets, in order to get there quicker. I disagreed—as I think he did too—with the intervention of Julian Knight, who was concerned that people suddenly will not buy Land Rovers, because they will see in the future that they might decrease in value. It is certainly my experience in my constituency that if someone pays £50,000 for a Land Rover they can afford to drive that vehicle, and they are not looking at a second-hand market down the road. I think luxury vehicles will not be affected by the stage targets, and I urge the Government to think about stage targets in that earlier phase-out of carbon vehicles.

I am unsure about the suggestion by the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire that 2022 might become a tipping point for the sale of electric vehicles as costs come down and upfront costs become more competitive. My concern is that we have heard for a while that we have reached the tipping point. Every so often there are Government announcements that say, “We have reached the tipping point. The sale of electric vehicles has gone up 50% compared with the year before,” but the reality is that less than 2% of vehicles on the roads are electric, so we are some way from that tipping point. Norway is a small, independent country, yet somewhere between 18% and 25% of vehicles on its roads are electric, so more can be done here. The Government need to look at what is happening elsewhere.

The hon. Members who spoke about electric bikes had a common theme, which was the access they provide to getting out and about in the great outdoors for people who are older or vulnerable, or who perhaps have a disability. I certainly echo those sentiments.

In Scotland, a third of all car journeys are actually for less than two miles, and a further quarter are for a mile or less. People take very short journeys in cars, and if we can get them either out of their petrol cars and into electric vehicles, or ideally on to bicycles or electric bikes, it would make a huge difference to carbon emissions and obviously to people’s general fitness.