The UK will fail to achieve its targets for the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles if the level of charging infrastructure and the skills base of the country’s technicians is not improved.
That is the judgement of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which has claimed the UK will fall short of prompting widespread take-up of EVs among consumers if significant investment isn’t made to the number of charging stations across the UK.
Over 100,000 electric vehicles have taken to the UK’s roads in recent years, with Western Power Distribution claiming the UK has seen a near 1,500% increase in EV sales between October 2013 and December 2016. However, IMI argues that the number of charging stations has failed to keep pace, rising by only 16% since last year.
Furthermore, it found insurance costs for ultra-low emission vehicles can be up to 50% higher than for petrol or diesels equivalents, warning that these won’t become more competitive until more people are qualified to work on them.
Steve Mash, chief executive at IMI, said: “Much more needs to be done if the UK is to realise the £51 billion contribution from new vehicle technologies that the government is pursuing by 2030. That is contingent upon the UK being a leading player, but we must start with the basics by ensuring that we have the infrastructure and skills base to support motorists making an easy transition from petrol and diesel to electric and hybrid.
“A greater and more rapid investment in the charging infrastructure and financial support to help those working in the service & repair sector, most particularly the independent operators, to gain the skills to work on the new technologies.
IMI has argued that currently only 1% of all technicians have been trained to work safely on the high-voltage technology, of which almost all of them work exclusively for manufacturers’ franchised dealers. It believes that the UK will fail to keep up with the global competition for the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) unless more technicians are given the training required to service these high powered vehicles.
“The IMI is continuing its campaign for the introduction of a licensing scheme for those working on the high voltage vehicles, and we’ve asked the government to contribute £30m to support the uptake of the necessary training,” Nash continued.