What does the election mean for electric vehicles?

Policy around climate change and associated measures to reduce the level of emissions the UK is producing have come under intense scrutiny in recent years. This has been no more apparent than in the case of the transition towards electric vehicles.

Towards the end of 2023, Rishi Sunak announced that the planned ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans would be delayed until 2035.

The delay in the ICE ban was met with a mixed response from industry, with some saying the Government had failed to meet commitments and others highlighting that many businesses and individuals would not be prepared for the 2030 deadline.

The EV landscape has continued to evolve and adapt at pace during its rise in prominence with policy not just impacting the long-term ambition to phase out ICE vehicles but also regulation impacting smart charging points.

Looking ahead to a potentially era-defining General Election, which at present is likely to see a Labour Government for the first time in over a decade, the Electric Vehicle sector will be keenly anticipating the publication of the major party’s election manifestos.

The move away from the 2030 ICE ban did receive opposition from within the party and it can be expected that the Conservative Manifesto would have further detail on how it would expand infrastructure and transition away from ICE vehicles in the future. The electrification of fleets for certain businesses had already taken place, and any future planning from businesses is likely to be with the understanding that the 2035 ban will not be delayed any further.

While the Conservative Government has chosen to delay the ICE ban until 2035, Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed confirmed that Labour would commit to reinstating the ban. This was also supplemented with reports suggesting that a Labour Government could offer drivers subsidies in order to buy electric vehicles.

However, this does need to be viewed in the context of recent environmental commitments made by the Labour Party which have subsequently been rowed back on. At the start of 2024, Labour leader Keir Starmer announced that the party would u-turn on its ambitious plans to spend £28bn a year on green policy initiatives.

In an attempt to make sure that the party dispels any allegations of being fiscally irresponsible, Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves are ensuring that all spending commitments are fully costed.

Businesses in the sector will therefore be keeping a keen eye on policy pledges when the respective manifestos are imminently published, and commitments made by both parties will be fully costed and pledged to be enacted when a Government is formed after the next election.

It is vital that businesses engage with the political process throughout the next year to ensure that industry voices are heard. While policy will be decided and committed to, effective and strategic communication from industry as to the practical implications will be crucial in forming regulation and legislation when it comes to pass.

The implications of subsidies, infrastructure planning and tax reform will be crucial to the future success of the electric vehicle industry and all businesses impacted by the transition away from ICE vehicles. The current or future Government will have a huge say in the trajectory of the sector and businesses must engage effectively through the media and directly with political stakeholders in order to ensure in benefits the industry, associated businesses and end consumers.

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