The UK Department for Transport has released a report entitled “The Road to Zero”, outlining its strategy towards cleaner road transport including electric vehicles (EVs).

By offering subsidies, rolling out a larger number of charge points on public roads, and ensuring new homes are electric vehicle ready, the plans are designed to offer greater incentives for purchasing and driving EVs.

There is no doubt that electric vehicles are on the rise. According to The Committee on Climate Change, 60% of new car and van sales will be plug-in hybrid or battery electric by 2030. With the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans to be banned by 2040, significant changes to infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the growth of EVs.

Launching the strategy, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The coming decades are going to be transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel. We expect to see more change in the transport sector over the next ten years than we have in the previous century.

“We are expecting our economy and society to experience profound change, which is why we have marked the future of mobility as one of the four grand challenges as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

New homes will be ready for electric vehicles

In the report, the government pledged to ensure new houses built in the coming years have charge points. It said that there were plans to “consult as soon as possible on introducing a requirement for charge point infrastructure for new dwellings in England where appropriate”.

It has also proposed that all new street lighting columns should include charging points where possible in areas with current on-street parking.

Financial incentives have been proposed to encourage the adoption of EVs

In the report, the government pledged funds of £40m by the summer of this year to “develop and trial innovative, low-cost wireless charging and public on-street charging solutions”. It previously committed to a £500m investment in ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020.

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides £500 for EV drivers installing domestic EV charge points. It will run until March 2019 or end sooner if 30,000 installations in 2018-19 have been supported.

The report said that £4.5m grant funding will be available until 2020 for local authorities to install charging points on publicly owned residential streets. In addition, businesses will be able to claim back 75% of charging point installation costs.

More charging points will be rolled out

According to a recent report by electricityinfo, the adoption of EVs is being held back by “massive gaps” in charging station locations across the country. Research by the AA research showed that eight out of ten drivers see the lack of charging points as a barrier to EVs.

The report addresses the issue of charging point numbers on public roads. Although the UK currently has around 14,000 public charge points, it identified that more will be needed to “deliver one of the best EV charging networks in the world to meet the demands and realise the benefits of the increasing numbers of electric vehicles.”

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Highways England has committed to ensuring there is a charge point every 20 miles along the strategic road network by 2020. In addition, the Department for Transport has pledged to support the development of a public charge point network, including a £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The report confirmed that the number of rapid chargers — able to charge EVs to 80% in around 30 minutes — will also be increased to 1,170 by 2030.

The government will be able to recall vehicles for “environmental nonconformity”

The government will have the power to make vehicle manufacturers recall models for “environmental nonconformity or failure”.

Tampering with emissions control systems will be considered a criminal offence. This is designed to “to ensure manufacturers deliver cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles to the market and help provide a stable environment for industry investment”.

The EU Commission has proposed a minimum regulatory expectation on manufacturers of 15% of new car sales to be “zero or low emission vehicles”.

However, some have criticised the plans

Although seemingly ambitious, the strategy has been criticised, with some believing that 2040 is too late to ban fossil fuel vehicles.

Greenpeace UK clean air campaigner Paul Morozzo told The Independent: “Ministers keep saying they want Britain to be a leader in electric cars, yet they’ve set a phase-out date for petrol and diesel that’s a decade behind other countries. Ministers need to shift up a gear, or this ‘Road to Zero’ will start looking like a road to nowhere.”

The plans have also been criticised as not being ambitious enough compared to other countries, with Scotland recently announcing that it planned to completely phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

Some have noted that the report does not mention banning hybrid cars, which would still use petrol or diesel.

Shadow Secretary for Transport Andy McDonald tweeted: “At a time when the planet is threatened by climate change and air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths each year, it is dangerous for the government to row back on their commitments to clean up road transport.”