What's the impact on the UK's EV industry by bringing forward the ICE ban?

3 min read

Last year, the UK government announced that the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle ban will be brought forward by 10 years, with the ban now set to come into force by 2030. What does this mean for the EV industry here in the UK?

The production and consumer availability of EVs themselves isn’t likely to be a problem in the UK. It is projected that it will be cheaper to produce electric vehicles than their fossil fuel counterparts by 2027. This should mean that, by the time the ban comes into place, a new EV should be an affordable option, at least for those motorists who would typically buy new ICE models.

Tesla is one of the most well-known and well-established names in the rapidly growing EV market, but other manufacturers such as General Motors, Jaguar, Ford and Volvo have all made commitments to increase their output of new EV models and curb production of ICE vehicles in line with the looming international bans.

Add to this the fact that second-hand ICE vehicles can still be traded, and that the majority of car sales in any given year are for used cars, there shouldn’t be any shortage of vehicles.

The main issue that currently faces the UK in terms of the ICE ban being brought forward is not the electric vehicles themselves, but the lack of charging points. It has been estimated that there will need to be around 25,000,000 charging points in the UK for an EV network to be supported. However, there are only around 11,000 charging locations. The lack of progress on this front was already a concern before the ban was brought forward, but progress now needs to be accelerated significantly.

The most effective way to charge EVs is currently through a mix of overnight charging and top-up charging at public rapid charge points, rather than letting the charge get too low and then charging to full.

There are government grants available to help homeowners install a home charging point, but this will not help those living in flats or apartment blocks or those who have to park on the street. The charging options for those living in a number of rural areas are still lacking too.

While the UK may not be ready for the ICE ban just yet, the ground that needs to be made up could be seen as an opportunity for UK businesses who are willing to invest significant time and resources into a growing market. The UK needs to drastically increase the availability of EV charging points and the time it takes to charge an EV still has plenty of room for improvement.

Currently, the expensive materials required for EV battery technology is a factor keeping new EV prices higher than new ICEVs and further development in this area could see EVs becoming more affordable even before 2027.

As the UK will be one of the earlier countries to implement its ICE ban, these areas for improvement present an opportunity for the UK to become a leader of EV technology. The market is still relatively young, and there are still problems that need to be solved before we can comfortably transition into an EV-only world, so UK businesses should be shifting their focus to these areas to get ahead of the competition.

The UK Department for Transport’s Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles is currently consulting over introducing a mandate that would require the operators of non-residential car parks to install a minimum of one EV charging point per 10 parking spaces as a short-term target, with the proposal that this will eventually be increased to one charger per 5 spaces.

The department is also pushing for local councils to outline EV infrastructure plans, then deliver and report on them. Currently, the main challenge for these local councils is the lack of funding, which means that the government will need to provide significantly more funding for local councils to meet installation targets.

The Department for Transport has suggested that the private and public sectors could be supported to finance the installation of the required chargers through the £950m Rapid Charging Fund. This fund would be allocated on a competitive basis to motorway and major A-road service operators across England who apply.

Should the government introduce such an approach to lobby the private sector, then companies competing for the contracts will all be working to produce more innovative technologies at a more affordable rate than their competitors, much the way the government approached the delivery of the UK’s offshore wind farms.

Policy Exchange delivered a report earlier this year that suggested the government should fund dedicated ‘charge point teams’ in local authorities to provide expertise and professional help with the rollout of charge points. Should such consultation be adopted, then this could provide an opportunity for industry experts with specialist EV knowledge to involve themselves.

Overall, there are many opportunities for the UK’s EV infrastructure to be made more capable if targeted funding is provided to scale up.

Author Details: Eamon Francis is the Managing Director at Delta Impact