Giving drivers £6,000 to switch to electric car would be ‘fantastic move’

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Motoring and environmental groups have welcomed the prospect of a new car scrappage scheme encouraging motorists to switch to electric vehicles.

The AA described it as “fantastic” while Greenpeace said it would be “moving in the right direction”.

Boris Johnson is considering launching plans to give drivers up to £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric model, the Daily Telegraph reported.

In March the government reduced the maximum grant available for electric car buyers under the Plug-In Car Grant by £500 to £3,000.

But it has been urged to help manufacturers hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with sales of new cars down nearly 90% in May compared with the same month in 2019.

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The Daily Telegraph reported that the prime minister may use a speech on the economy on 6 July to set out his plans for a scrappage scheme.

AA president Edmund King called on drivers to “take up the deal” if it goes ahead, as it would “help both car manufacturers and air quality”.

He called for more charging points to “convince drivers that they can always get home” and for the UK to build gigafactories to develop the batteries fitted in electric cars.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes predicted that a scrappage scheme “might be the game-changing boost the automotive sector needs”.

He went on: “Drivers’ concerns about emissions are becoming ever stronger and interest in zero-emission vehicles is increasing.

“But many continue to say that the upfront cost of electric vehicles compared to those of similarly sized conventional vehicles is a barrier to them switching so any sort of scheme which tackles this would be very welcome.”

Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said: “The government would be moving in the right direction by favouring electric vehicles over polluting diesel and petrol. But they need to go further to really see clean transport drive the green recovery.

“Any scrappage scheme should also give people the option to use public transport instead of a new vehicle, or to purchase the likes of e-bikes as an alternative to their car.”

A previous initiative launched in 2009 saw motorists get £2,000 for trading in old cars for new models.

Half the money came from the government, with the other half from manufacturers.

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that pure battery-electric new cars held just a 1.6% share of the new car market last year.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said the ban on sales of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans could be brought forward from 2040 to as early as 2032 in a bid to meet carbon reduction targets.

This sparked criticism from the automotive industry, which claimed it would take more than industry investment to achieve such a timetable.

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    1. Yes please.

      Or rather. I would if I could, but in my rural part of Northern England there are no charging points, (that I know of), and living in a terraced row with no off road parking access have no ability to invest in my own.

      I did hear a rumour of Government incentives to companies to convert their parking areas to incorporate plug-in points. This is a must if you want this to work.

      1. I agree. To support a switch to electric vehicles we need massive investment in infrastructure such as replacing ‘petrol stations’ with ‘charging stations’. Only central government can co-ordinate that and there are various ways to achieve quick greening – higher taxes on fossil fuels/fines for environmental harm, grants to fund conversion of petrol stations to electric charging stations, ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ new-for-old grants to swap old vehicles for new e-vehicles, and support for manufacturing enough electric vehicles of all kinds to meet the rising demand. It has to be ‘joined up thinking’ or nothing will change any time soon.

        I also live in rural area. But I don’t drive and want to use an e-bicycle instead but (1) there is nowhere to recharge a bicycle so it is not a practical choice for daily travel (2) there’s nowhere to safely leave a bicycle – when they cost £thousands, I am not going to leave one padlocked to a fence while I pop into a shop or visit the pub or whatever because I know it will not be there when I come back.

        Where I live, Northumberland, as far as I am aware there is one railway station on the Carlisle-Newcastle cross-country line that has metal lockable bike safes you can hire to leave bikes in when you switch to train transport. It is Riding Mill or Stocksbridge, I can’t remember. Apart from that, I honestly know of no other place to safely leave a bike or e-bike anywhere in Northumberland, Cumberland, Co. Durham or even further afield. In northern England, you can ride a bike from home to another private residence, and to some employers’ premises where you get safe spaces to store bikes otherwise nothing – you just lock a bike anyhow you can and cross your fingers it is there when you come back.

        Incidentally, I think it would be unfair to give grants to buy e-cars but not help people buy e-bikes. But Johnson never thought of that…

        As usual, Johnson ‘spaffs’ off some idea (not his idea because creative thinking is beyond him, something generated by a focus group doing ‘blue sky thinking’) and hopes to get a better poll score as a result. But he just chases ‘popularity’ – he does not actually have a strategy for government. That takes the kind of effort he reckons is ‘for girly swots’ (‘girly’ because he is a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist as well as a lifelong racist).

    2. There are enough bloody cars on the road. We should invest in decent public transport and get rid off the culture of commuting. Also we need to get rid of the work ethic. The work ethic is only about making the rich richer at the expense of the poor and the environment.

      1. I agree with your aims, Frank. However, as a stepping-stone towards the aims you list, I think a switch to electric vehicles is a good move – electric public transport, electric goods vehicles (trains, barges, delivery wagons), electric bicycles or mobility scooters or wheelchairs. All are better than vehicles using fossil fuels.

        Yes, we need to improve public transport and switch goods transport away from roads back to rail or canal, redesign cities and our ‘lifestyles’ to use walking or cycling rather than powered transport as much as possible. But there will always be a need for powered vehicles that can drive to destinations not on any public transport route and, given that these must have as little harmful impact on the environment as possible, an ‘electric taxi’ able to take e.g. a wheelchair user into the countryside for a picnic is not something I want to ban or disparage.

        Looking ahead, I hope some electric road vehicles (e.g. emergency vehicles or vehicles designed to go into countryside away from human occupation) needing us to waste vast areas of land on motorways etc can be replaced with electric ‘hover’ vehicles able to move around without the need for anything on the ground. We already have drones able to carry loads without roads – maybe we could scale this up to ‘flying human transport’ but always limit the number of such vehicles in the air so that our skies are not crowded by ‘sky jams’ which would be little improvement on current terrestrial congestion.

        Small towns, everything you need within walking/wheelchair distance, more efficient agriculture, more ‘rewilded’ areas and a handful of green hover vehicles providing ad hoc access to the farmed or wild areas (to support agriculture, recreation, emergency response) would be my ideal.

        Sadly, that dream is a long way off – so let’s do what we can with what we have here and now 🙂

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