British economy could benefit from £51 billion in electric cars, according to a new study. If the government acts fast, the country will see its first full-length production vehicle in 2021.
An independent academic study this week will warn the UK Government that it will lose out on significant economic advantages unless it makes a major investment in improving the country’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and upskilling the motor sector.
The study, commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), predicts that overall economic and social benefits of electric and self-driving cars could be worth about £51 billion a year by 2030, with the potential for 320,000 new industry positions.
On Wednesday, MPs from across the political spectrum will hear the report’s findings and recommendations at a special meeting of the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Low Emission Vehicles. The study’s authors are calling on the Government to prioritize economic growth in the motor sector by acting strategically to make charging low emission vehicles convenient for drivers, and ensuring that there are enough trained technicians to service and repair them.
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“The UK, by virtue of its size and positioning, has a natural edge in the adoption of cars with new powertrain technologies, but it will require government investment to prime this effort.” Loughborough University professor Jim Saker, who is chairing the Parliamentary session on Wednesday, said.
“Without proper regulation, a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles. If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy.”
Mind the gap
Professor Saker will propose a number of government policies to enhance the EV economy and decrease safety concerns in the sector. From 2016, it will be illegal for unregistered technicians to work on electric or fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) without the proper authorisation.
According to IMI chief executive Steve Nash, there is a pressing need for a higher qualified workforce in the industry to avoid future skills shortages. According to independent garages’ struggles to recruit highly skilled experts, he claims that there is an acute requirement for more educated individuals.
“We’ve seen a growth of more than 20% in alternative-fuel vehicles with Tesla announcing £7 billion worth of orders for their new model in just two days,” said Prime Minister Theresa May. “If we want to ensure that the UK has the skilled workforce it needs across the board to support and service these cars, we must take the required measures now.
“This will only be possible if appropriate actions are taken with some urgency to avoid a serious and growing skills shortage, most particularly in the non-franchised part of the automotive sector.”
Tesla Model 3
The study is coming at a crucial time for the electric vehicle industry. Last week, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive announced that his customers produced 8GWh of electricity in a single day — enough energy to charge every Tesla on the road.
Tesla’s latest news is that it will begin producing the Model 3, which promises to be “affordable” in August 2017. Tesla’s highly anticipated ‘low-cost’ electric vehicle was also unveiled at the same event. The Tesla Model 3 will cost between £24,423 and £44,350 when it goes on sale in mid-2017. Following the unveiling, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that pre-orders for the Model 3 were already over 300,000 within days of its launch.
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