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Roads Update

Volume 644: debated on Monday 9 July 2018

Today I am publishing the Government’s zero emission road transport strategy “Road to Zero”. The transition to zero emission road transport is happening now across the world. It will mean fundamental changes to the global automotive market, worth over £1.5 trillion a year, bringing new jobs and growth opportunities for the UK. These include those we are already enjoying through Nissan in Sunderland, producing one in eight zero emission cars bought in Europe in 2017, and the London Electric Vehicle Company near Coventry, which put the world’s first electric black taxis on the streets of London earlier this year.

This Government’s vision is to build a Britain that is fit for the future. Leading the industries of the future and building the UK’s competitiveness in the face of major global economic trends are key parts of our industrial strategy. That is why our 2040 mission to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles is central to the future of mobility and clean growth industrial strategy grand challenges.

The benefits are not just economic. Road transport is one of the biggest contributors to poor air quality in some of the UK’s towns and cities. And transport is the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector in the UK. The work we are doing today to make road transport cleaner will mean we are handing the next generation a better, cleaner, greener Britain. It will improve the health and lives of people across the UK. It will help us achieve our statutory long-term greenhouse gas targets and our air quality commitments.

We have already made significant progress thanks to this Government’s £1.5 billion investment. Today there are more than 150,000 ultra low emission vehicles in the UK and around 14,000 public chargepoints, with hundreds more being added every month. There is a network of over 1,300 rapid chargepoints—one of the largest in Europe.

But we need action on a number of fronts to give certainty to the market and the consumer that the Government are fully behind this transition. The “Road to Zero” strategy sets out both our long-term ambitions and the measures we are taking to get there. It builds on our industrial strategy, automotive sector deal, clean growth strategy and the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Government’s long-term ambitions

As set out in the Government’s N02 plan, we will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. By then, we expect the majority of new cars and vans sold to be 100% zero emission and all new cars and vans to have significant zero emission capability. By 2050 we want almost every car and van to be zero emission. We expect this transition to be industry and consumer led, supported in the coming years by the measures set out in this strategy. We will review progress by 2025 and consider what interventions are required if not enough progress is being made.

In addition, by 2030, we want to see at least 50%, and as many as 70%, of new car sales being ultra low emission.

Government have a key role to play. The strategy contains a package of measures covering the three key issues: supply of vehicles to the market; consumer demand; and a fit for purpose infrastructure network.

The right infrastructure to support the transition

If we are to help people to make the right choice of vehicle for their journey, then one element will be to reduce range anxiety on electric vehicles. The strategy sets out a package of measures to ensure that electric vehicle drivers will be able to easily locate and access charging infrastructure that is affordable, efficient and reliable. We will continue to provide grants to encourage people to charge at home overnight, both on and off streets. This is how we envisage the majority of charging will take place.

Today we are announcing our intention that all new homes, where appropriate, should have a chargepoint available. We plan to consult as soon as possible on introducing a requirement for chargepoint infrastructure for new dwellings in England. We will look at how to achieve this in the most cost-effective way, mindful of the Government’s housing supply objectives. We also want all new street lighting columns to include charging points, where appropriately located, in residential areas with current on-street parking provision.

Workplace and public infrastructure will also be vital. The strategy contains a range of measures to support the development of these networks. These include an increase to the grant available for workplace charging, a joint pilot with Highways England to increase electrical capacity at a motorway service area, Highways England’s commitment to ensuring there is a chargepoint every 20 miles along the strategic road network by 2020 and the £400 million charging infrastructure investment fund announced at Budget 2017 to accelerate the roll out of chargepoints.

In this parliamentary Session we have taken the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill through Parliament, now only awaiting Royal Assent, to improve the experience and provision of chargepoints. The Bill gives Government powers to ensure that chargepoints are available at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, with Metro Mayors granted powers in relation to the latter. It also gives powers to ensure that chargepoints are easily accessed and used across the UK. This includes providing a uniform method of accessing public charge- points and refuelling points; making certain information publicly available in an open and transparent format; and setting reliability standards.

We will also ensure the electricity system now and in the future is ready for this transition. We and the energy sector are confident that existing market mechanisms will be able to meet additional electricity demand. Provisions in the aforementioned Bill to mandate smart charging, and our £30 million R and D investment in technologies allowing electricity to pass from vehicles into the grid at times of peak demand, will help alleviate these effects. We have launched an electric vehicles energy taskforce to bring together the relevant parts of industry and Government to ensure the transition is smooth.

The supply of vehicles and associated technologies to market

In our automotive sector deal, we made major new commitments to research and development in zero emission vehicle technology, and to developing competitive UK supply chains. This included the £246 million Faraday battery challenge, which is already supporting the development of battery technology in the UK. We will continue to support our established multi-million pound research and development programme for ultra low emission vehicles, which has been estimated to have a rate of return of £8 for every £1 invested.

The industry has an ambition to increase the level of UK content by value in domestically built vehicles to 50% by 2022. We want to work with industry to set a target at least as ambitious for the ultra low emission vehicle supply chain as we look to secure investment in UK battery manufacturing.

Consumer and business demand for ultra low emission vehicles

A recent survey indicated that around 38% of consumers considering a new car purchase would consider an electric car. However, only 2% of new car sales are currently ultra low emission.

More models are coming to market, giving consumers greater choice. Battery prices are coming down and we are committed to keeping in place our plug-in car and van grants until at least 2020. The tax system also favours ultra low and particularly zero emission vehicles over conventional ones. The strategy recognises that consumer incentives in some form will continue to play a role in driving uptake beyond 2020. And with industry we are launching the 2018-19 Go Ultra Low consumer campaign to promote the benefits of these vehicles and improve understanding of the choices available. Government will lead consumer uptake with 100% of central Government car fleets being ultra low emission by 2030.

Reducing emissions from conventional vehicles

However, it’s important to recognise that today over 99% of global car and van sales are petrol or diesel. Our strategy sets out how we will reduce emissions from the vehicles on our roads now and during the transition to zero emission vehicles. We will do this by increasing the supply and sustainability of low carbon fuels, accelerating the adoption of fuel efficient motoring and ensuring that our future approach to vehicle emissions regulation as we leave the European Union is at least as ambitious as current arrangements.

Cleaner diesel vehicles can play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions from road transport during the transition to zero emission vehicles whilst meeting ever more stringent air quality standards. For diesel vehicles to play their part fully, their air quality impact must continue to be reduced. We welcome the continued innovation and investment by vehicle manufacturers to develop cleaner diesel vehicles that meet the more challenging real driving emissions (RDE) requirements, delivering critical improvements in NOx emissions on our roads.

In addition to working in Europe to set ambitious new EU CO2 emissions standards for HGVs, we also recognise the need to reduce emissions from existing HGVs significantly. Working in partnership with industry leaders, the Government are also announcing a new industry-wide voluntary commitment for reducing HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025.

The strategy also sets out the results of our assessment of the environmental performance of the road vehicle fuels and technologies available to consumers. It is clear that zero emission vehicle options deliver the greatest environmental benefits regardless of vehicle type or use.

In the transition to zero emission vehicles, clear and consistent consumer information will be essential. We will set up a road transport emissions advice group to bring together Government, industry and consumer groups to work together to meet this challenge.


We cannot deliver this strategy alone. We are committed to working in partnership with industry, businesses, academia, environmental groups and others. That includes the devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who are taking significant steps to accelerate the transition. This is a UK-wide strategy and our core package of vehicle and chargepoint grants applies across the UK. We are working with local areas. We are also playing a leading role internationally, bringing together the international community in September’s groundbreaking zero emission vehicle summit.

Other changes are happening to the automotive sector including automation and new business models, which are challenging our assumptions about how we travel. The future of mobility grand challenge has been established to harness the opportunities presented by these changes and consider their impact on our society. Later this year, we will be publishing our strategy for the future of urban mobility, and we will shortly be engaging on this.

By putting the UK at the forefront of the twenty-first century transport revolution, we can ensure our automotive sector—one of our greatest success stories—continues to thrive and create good jobs across the country. We can set a global standard for managing technological change to maximise economic and environmental benefits. We will work with industry to achieve this ambition, and share the benefits this opportunity presents. Helping us achieve our goals of cleaner air, a better environment, zero emission vehicles, a strong clean economy.

A copy of this document is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The attachment can be viewed online at: