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UK steps up plans for zero transport emissions by 2040

Two new proposals under UK government’s Modern Transport Bill set to give better incentives to EV users

Parliament announced this week that it was considering additional measures made to the Modern Transport Bill by the Department for Transport. The move is crucial if the UK wants to achieve electric-only registrations of new vehicles by 2040.

The decision making process, closing on November 23 2016, will rely on the views of the wider public and businesses. If accepted, these measures will mean a greater number of convenient charging points for users of EVs across the UK. Coinciding with this is the £4 million boost to the Plug-In Van Grant. The grant currently benefits those using electric vans weighing less than 3.5 tonnes but the funding increase will allow for changes to the eligibility requirements. That means businesses using vans over 3.5 tonnes may take advantage of up to £20,000 when switching their large scale ICE trucks to EVs.

Convenience and accessibility means rigorous changes to charging infrastructure. There are almost 12,000 charging points in place across the UK as well as the largest network of rapid charges in Europe. That number is set to increase and points may become mandatory at all major refuelling points and service stations. Furthermore, Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced that the proposals would give the government powers over energy providers. Online databases of network information, common standards of provision, transparent pricing systems, and universal charge point memberships are planned.

Finally, it is expected that increased franchising will drive the roll out of hydrogen refuelling points in a similar fashion. These moves are a likely response to the requirement of transposition of the AFID (Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive; Europe-wide legislation agreed in 2013) into UK law.

Alongside optimal set ups for EV users, initiatives take the form of grants and subsidies. The Plug-In Van Grant has been in place since 2012 but has only seen a limited change in sales of EVs for commercial use. OLEV (The Office for Low Emission Vehicles) believes that including larger commercial vehicles in the grant eligibility specifications will provide the encouragement needed for sales increases. Businesses are not short of further reasons to go electric, such as improved air quality and the benefit of an impressive home-grown EV market, yet 96% of vans and trucks on the road are still powered by a diesel engine.

In a final nod to the government’s efforts to woo Nissan’s continued investment, the release also references Japanese “co-operation in the development of new technologies and business models,” including that of Toyota and Honda.

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