EDITOR’S COMMENT: Authoritarian, elitist, anti-motorist.. and eye-wateringly expensive: Drivers, business and economists slam Boris Johnson’s Stalinist plan to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
Drivers, business and economists today let rip at Boris Johnson’s ‘Stalinist’ ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 – warning rushing the transition is impossible and electric vehicles are still out of reach for ordinary Britons. The PM heralded a ‘green industrial revolution’ as he launched a ten-point, £12billion plan for the environment, saying it could create 250,000 jobs and slash the country’s carbon emissions. But the Alliance of British Drivers, condemned the plan as flying in the face of the free market, saying the charging infrastructure was not even ready.
Other experts questioned whether enough electric vehicles will be in production to meet demand by 2030 – a date that did not feature in the Tory election manifesto – suggesting the costs will be so high that only the ‘wealthy’ will be able to drive. And there were complaints that the ‘authoritarian’ programme will come with an ‘immense’ price tag, at a time when the government is already borrowing record sums due to the coronavirus crisis.
Nigel Humphries of the Alliance of British Drivers told MailOnline: ‘If you’ve got to the point that you need to ban something then that shows you’ve got no confidence in the alternative. There’s something Stalinist about it. ‘Where’s the free market in all of this that the so-called Conservative Party is meant to be protecting? It’s also far, far too early and does not give the motor industry much time to prepare.
‘There’s also something serious that needs to be done with the charging infrastructure if everybody is going to be able to use one.’ Professor Peter Wells, Director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, told MailOnline: ‘There are few things that might get in the way of this. ‘I’m not sure the UK industry – including companies like Jaguar Land Rover – will be ready to deliver enough electric vehicle by that point.
‘The chief bottleneck so far is on battery supply. That is being solved across Europe but we’re a bit behind the pace here in the UK. ‘There’s also a concern on the retail side too. Repairing and maintaining these cars requires new skills and I’m not sure there enough people trained up. ‘It’s a nice vision but I think there has to be concern about whether it can be realisable by the industry.’
Nicholas Lyes of the RAC warned that many motorists would be nervous about the switch to electric cars, given their limited driving range and charging problems. Urging ministers to revive discount schemes for buyers, he said the biggest barrier by far was the high upfront cost. The push for electric vehicles will come with a £1.3billion investment in charging points in homes, streets and trunk roads.