“All the Conservatives can offer is green number plates” – Labour spokesman, discussing radical new plans to usher in an ‘electric car revolution’.

Of course, both major political parties are bandying around key words and phrases, all designed to pique your interest and win your vote: “We will provide interest free loans for 2.5 million people to upgrade their vehicles, and introduce a scrappage scheme for old cars” sounds like a great idea, and anything that makes ownership of a state-of-the-art electric vehicle more accessible should be applauded.

Should be applauded.

Net zero

The United Kingdom has signed up to be ‘net zero’ by 2050, which effectively means removing as many emissions from the environment, as we produce. As part of the 2050 strategy, the government are looking to implement numerous regulations, schemes and processes to help that along, and of course, transportation is chief among those targets.

Limiting and reducing mileage driven is a prime source to aiding that goal, but to achieve this, it’s thought that a minimum of a 20% reduction in mileage is needed, and that figure rises to around 60% under Labour’s expert briefing report, thanks to trying to hit that target by 2030.

The Conservative Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is clear as to what this means for the motorist: “Corbyn is coming for your car and will exhume the last Labour Government’s war on the motorist.”

Kickstarting the revolution

“We will provide interest free loans for 2.5 million people to upgrade their vehicles, introduce a scrappage scheme for old cars, protect the 186,000 workers in the automotive sector that has been under siege from Tory mismanagement of the economy, kickstart a mammoth rollout of the UK’s electric vehicle charging network and set up community car sharing clubs so that everyone can benefit.”

It’s clear from the above statement that Labour are offering more than just coloured number plates, and there is huge potential to make this work, but just as likely is the potential to get things wrong; warnings of a ‘massive barrage of taxes and increases in road pricing’ follow on from Labour’s own statement of ‘demand management’ to force a ‘large and rapid’ drop in road use.

To those of you thinking that this is politically biased, I’ll point out that under the Conservatives, grants and schemes to aid the purchase of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure have been slashed, that their alternative is little more than a box-ticking gimmick, designed to give the impression of pushing the green agenda.

Apolitical thinking

Now more than ever, we need bipartisan or independent policies to create a sustainable, useable and manageable policy for future transportation and road use. Pushing electric vehicles to the fore will help drive demand and technology innovation, but it can’t be at the cost of huge price hikes in fuel duty or VED.

The technology behind electric vehicles and semi-autonomous driving is revolutionising the industry, perhaps it’s time for the authorities to take the same attitude and look toward making radical changes to the production costs, purchase price and infrastructure to help enable a wider uptake of these vehicles? Or is the guarantee of easy revenue, cheap votes and cheaper point scoring more important?

It’s clear that societal attitudes are changing – even the most ardent lover of internal combustion is coming round to the benefit of electric vehicles, both in terms of the environment, and their pocket, but forcing them through financial measures to choose electric over internal combustion just isn’t feasible, nor is it ‘for the many not the few’.

Offering low-rate VED on new electric vehicles is a start, but that’s a very small step toward offering real, actual help to purchase a vehicle, and until that happens, the majority of the population that live hand-to-mouth will never make the decision to swap to electric, and that’s before we look at the complex problem of actually being able to charge the vehicle.

If the government (any government) are serious about pushing the switch to electric vehicles, they need to offer more than green number plates, a 60% reduction in mileage (through taxation), and an increase in fuel duty to force the change.

‘Now is the winter of our discontent’ seems perfectly apt as we face a winter of politicking, sorting the wheat from the chaff, and trying to decide just who to place our money on for the future of our motoring, but one thing is for sure – the motorcar as we know it is firmly in the crosshairs.

What’s your solution to ‘Net Zero 2050’? Should the decisions & choices be removed from the political arena? Or are we just needing to get on with it … they’re all terrible? Let us know in the comments.

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