UK political parties should commit to delivering net zero for everyone, through measures including a reliable and affordable UK-wide recharging and refuelling network, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The organisation has published ‘Manifesto 2030: Automotive growth for a zero emission future’, which it says sets out five pledges it wants to see parties to adopt ahead of the next General Election, expected late next year.

It said this would create the conditions for a ten-fold rise in annual UK battery EV production to more than 750,000 units per year by 2030.

Regarding charging infrastructure, the subject of one of the five pledges, the manifesto states: “With the right regulatory framework, the right flexibilities and the right support mechanisms, the UK automotive industry can deliver a successful and competitive ZEV transition. However, this is contingent on the key assumption that charging infrastructure is no longer a barrier to mass market uptake. 

“Left entirely to market forces, the rollout of chargepoints will risk prioritising commercial rather than consumer interests, with more profitable types of chargers and high-utilisation locations dominating and the equitable provision of public chargers becoming increasingly inadequate, inequitable and disproportionate as EV uptake accelerates.”

The SMMT said that charging provision should not disadvantage drivers in rural areas, or those reliant on on-street residential charging, and that public charging should be affordable so those without access to home chargers were not penalised.

In addition, it has called for a system of motor taxation and duties that encourage the switch to zero emission and provides long term certainty and affordability.

Other elements of the SMMT’s manifesto include: the publication of a Green Automotive Transformation Strategy to support EV manufacturing; education measures to help provide the staff the industry will need to achieve this; the placing of manufacturing and supply chains at the core of UK trade policy and market access; and ensuring that industries are able to access affordable zero-emission energy.

According to the SMMT, the UK automotive industry is facing fierce global competition from other countries offering major cash incentives and subsidies to attract green manufacturing.

In addition, it said there was a threat of tariffs from the UK-EU trade deal, due at the end of this year, making UK-made EVs uncompetitive in the EU and pushing up the prices of vehicles here, while inflationary pressures and energy prices are also concerns.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The government has set the industry tough targets and we are committed to meeting them. But we are in the middle of the most fiercely competitive investment landscape of a generation and need a UK response, urgently, using every policy, every fiscal and regulatory lever, to make Britain the most attractive place to invest. 

“The automotive industry rises to every challenge, so we set out today a challenge to all political parties: back us with the right conditions and we will turn our obligations into opportunities for our industry, for jobs, for the environment and for the UK.”