The Government should encourage drivers to buy new electric cars by increasing the cost of petrol and diesel models by £500 to £1,500, a report written for the Department for Transport recommends. Any money raised from this ‘feebate’ should then subsidise the cost of electric vehicles – that are typically more expensive – to further incentivise drivers to go electric. But why?
The Government wants to encourage motorists to buy electric cars as they cannot emit pollution (at the point of use). It is keen to reduce transport pollution as it causes various health issues. Transport Research Laboratory’s report says that ‘transport accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions’ in the United Kingdom in 2018. That was ‘more than any other sector’, it revealed.
The report therefore praises its feebate proposal. ‘Feebate would be a major policy announcement – but one which we feel has the potential for high impact if done right’, it says. ‘A feebate system of sufficient magnitude would be a strong incentive (to encourage people to buy electric cars) given the well-evidenced importance of cost in vehicle purchase decisions’, the report stresses.
Industry experts oppose feebate
However, there is opposition to the feebate proposal. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is against it, for example. This trade association represents the motor industry and its interests. Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, argues: 'We need positive measures not those that penalise consumers who cannot yet afford the latest electric technology, do not have adequate charging facilities, or for whom driving requirements are not suited to electrification.
The Transport Research Laboratory report has further ideas to encourage motorists to buy electric vehicles. For example, create ‘clinics’ in urban areas that let people test cars for a couple of hours. The purpose would be to prove they can travel a useful distance per-charge. Why? Because range anxiety is one of the reasons people are reluctant to go electric. Further proposals include:
- fit electric vehicle chargers at remote tourist hotspots to reassure motorists they can charge in rural areas (and therefore not get stranded)
- further expand the county’s electric car infrastructure by encouraging hotels, supermarkets, and other businesses to fit public chargers
- make it mandatory for fuel stations to have public chargers
- let electric vehicle owners have reserved parking spaces outside their homes (that incorporate an electric charger)
- free parking for electric cars in ‘all publicly owned car parks’ to save motorists money.