UK Politicians Ramp Up Attack on Car Ownership

A fresh challenge to stemming the drop-off of future car ownership faces the auto industry now that UK politicians have called for a radical cut in vehicle use.

The BBC has reported that members of Parliament suggest the country will not meet its goal of zero climate change emissions by 2050 without a huge change in the public’s personal transportation choices. A Science and Technology Committee report claimed that, in the long-term, “widespread personal vehicle ownership, therefore, does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation”. This means government needs to do more to encourage people out of their own vehicles and into public transport or ride-sharing, whether through commercial services or with colleagues sharing lifts to work, for example.

More worryingly for the fledgling EV market, the report also says the government cannot rely solely on persuading consumers to buy EVs over ICE-powered vehicles. “The government should not aim to achieve emissions reductions simply by replacing existing vehicles with lower-emissions versions.” While EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions while being driven that gasoline or diesel cars, “their manufacture generates substantial emissions,” says the report.

The production and disposal of lithium-ion batteries has been shown to generate an adverse impact on the environment. Some scientists have pointed out that, depending on a nation’s energy production mix, EVs can have a worse life-cycle emissions record than diesel ICE powertrains.

The report also found that cutting the available grant for those buying an EV, and removing it completely for hybrids and PHEVs, in October 2018, delayed or undermined the carbon reduction targets. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), PHEV sales have dropped over 30% this year as a result, although EV sales have risen by 70%, showing the increase in demand as people look to enjoy lower running costs. MPs also recommend government invests in public transport as a way to decrease car use, in particular investing in a low-emissions public transport system.

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