Give us a scrappage scheme to fuel the switch to electric cars, ministers urged

Emma Gatten
·3-min read
electric car
electric car

The Government has been told it must do more to help drivers transition to electric vehicles including introducing scrappage schemes, as they face a ban on the purchase of new combustion engines from 2030.  

The move to bring forward the ban by 10 years was welcomed by green groups and industry bodies as a clear signpost to help spur the market in electric vehicles.

But there were warnings that the move could cause the second hand market in combustion engines to drop, and leave many people unable to afford to make the switch.

Julian Knight, the Tory MP for Solihull, urged ministers to implement a scrappage scheme.

The Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the Government "needs to be aware it’s just devalued everyone’s cars and slashed any incentive to buy new in the next 10 years".

"We will need a proper scrappage scheme that takes account of that," he argued.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said of a means-tested scrappage scheme: "The government doesn't necessarily lose money out of it because part of the scheme is to then buy a new car and the government gets the VAT from the new car,” he said.

Although studies show that electric cars are cheaper over their lifetime when factoring in fuel prices, the upfront costs of an EV - which start from around £15,000 - make them prohibitive for many consumers.

Mr King warned that the policy could have unintended negative consequences as people avoid having to make the switch, prolonging the life of the most polluting models.

“The irony is, they will hold on to their petrol and diesel cars longer than they normally would and that is worse for the environment,” he said. He added that around half of emissions in city centres are currently caused by just 10 per cent of older, badly maintained vehicles.

“It's fine if 70 per cent of the other people have got clean vehicles, but that 10 per cent is still causing quite a problem. So it's not just as simple as giving a 2030 date.”

Electric cars
Electric cars

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society for Motoring Manufacturers, said “success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies".

The SMMT is calling for more spending on purchase incentives, after the Government promised £582 million in grants to encourage people to make the switch.

The SMMT is calling for VAT exemptions for all zero emission capable cars, which it says would reduce the upfront price of a family electric car by an average of £5,500, and for an electric SUV by up to £9,750.

Sales of used combustion engine cars will still be allowed after 2030, and there are no plans to outlaw their use on the road.

But there are concerns that rising disincentives for petrol and diesel drivers, such as low emission zones, will significantly increase the cost of driving a combustion engine over the next ten years.

Adrian Dally, the head of motor finance at the Finance and Leasing Association called for a green finance guarantee to help potential new EV drivers.

"Electric vehicles will remain more expensive to buy and finance than ICE vehicles for some time yet, which is why we are looking to Government for a green finance guarantee to support the transition.”