- by theguardian
- 21 Sep 2023
A number of factors are likely to be involved. As interest rates and inflation remain high, the upfront cost of a new electric car makes it more expensive in the short term than a petrol or diesel one. Falling oil prices may have diminished the immediate incentive to switch. At the same time, despite repeated pledges by Whitehall, the rollout of charging infrastructure continues to be too slow and is not keeping pace with sales.
Under Boris Johnson, the government forecast that 300,000 publicly available chargers would be needed by 2030. Reaching that number would require the installation of 100 chargers a day, but the current rate is estimated to be around a fifth of that. For lower-income families without the option of charging their cars in garages or driveways, the problem is compounded by current electricity prices and the substantially higher VAT rate paid at public charging points.
A major societal transformation of this kind should not be attempted on the cheap, with the risk of creating losers along the way. Looming on the horizon, alongside the imperative of achieving environmental sustainability goals, is a question of social equity. If popular buy-in to the green transition is to be safeguarded, the choice of owning an electric vehicle must not be confined to more well-off early adopters and those fortunate enough to be entitled to a company car. Manufacturers must do more to develop affordable options if they are to meet mandated targets on the way to 2030. But the government should do more than simply wave a big stick and threaten punitive action from the sidelines if those targets are missed.
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