UK car industry calls for EV charger mandate, regulatory oversight

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement that the industry has come up with a seven-point plan to improve lagging EV charging infrastructure in the country. Herr Loeffler / [Herr Loeffler /]

Britain’s auto industry called on the country’s government on Wednesday to mandate targets for rolling out electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and create a new regulatory body to oversee the market conditions and enforce minimum standards.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement that the industry has come up with a seven-point plan to improve lagging EV charging infrastructure in the country.

That plan includes calling for a national coordinated charging infrastructure plan and significant investments in chargers – especially public chargers.

The SMMT also called for the formation of a new regulatory body, called “Ofcharge” or the Office of Charging. It would monitor price levels to ensure charging vehicles was affordable and “enforce regulated minimum standards.”

Britain’s government has proposed an effective ban on fossil-fuel vehicles by 2030, while the European Commission has proposed a similar ban from 2035.

But the car industry and other groups say that a lack of public chargers discourages many consumers from adopting a new, unfamiliar technology.

European and U.S. cities planning to phase out combustion engines over the next 15 years also face a major challenge in providing access to enough public chargers for the millions of residents who park their cars on the street.

The SMMT said that while the number of plug-in cars on Britain’s roads jumped 280% between 2019 and 2021, the number of standard EV charge points rose by just 70%.

“This is undermining consumer confidence to make the switch, with range anxiety now replaced by charging anxiety,” the car industry group said.

Infrastructure issues

The SMMT said there are also huge, growing regional disparities in charger availability in Britain, which need to be addressed in any infrastructure plan.

The same issue has been reported in Europe where rollouts of necessary infrastructure are running significantly behind schedule.

Germany had announced plans to install 2000 charging stations as week, but it has fallen far short of the aim, managing just 250. This could also impact Europe’s largest country in meeting its goal of rolling out 15 million electronic cars by 2030.

“The gap is widening, not narrowing. A gap that could cost us success,” said Hildegard Müller, president of the VDA, at the association’s annual kick-off on 9 February.

“If Germany maintains its current modest pace, we will have just around 160,000 charging points in 2030 – not even a sixth of the 1 million targets.”

According to Müller, the goal of delivering 15 million e-cars is realistic because “the car industry can build cars”, though ultimately their uptake is dependent on charging infrastructure.

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Germany has fallen far behind its targets for expanding e-car infrastructure and will likely miss its 2030 e-mobility target, according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

Jobs on the line

In other European countries, concerns are mounting over possible job losses caused by the use of electronic cars.

SEAT – a member of the German Volkswagen group – warned that, in the near future, it would need 30% fewer working hours to manufacture electric vehicles.

This percentage could affect 8,000 employees, mainly in its Barcelona factories, where some 15,000 people work.

Based on this percentage, SEAT’s trade unions have warned that the future of 2,400 direct jobs could be at risk, and another 5,600 indirect jobs could be also jeopardised.

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The Spanish car industry could see 8,000 people lose their jobs in the future as electric cars require less workforce than combustion engine cars, Spanish car manufacturer SEAT has warned, newspaper Cinco Dias reported on Tuesday.

SEAT – a member of the German …

In Italy, experts say that the plan of phasing out combustion engines by 2035 will hit small firms hard as they struggle to keep up with the investment needed.

“This plan, if not accompanied by (government) intervention, could lead to a loss of approximately 73,000 jobs in Italy, with 63,000 in the 2025-2030 period,” employers’ group Federmeccanica and the FIM, FIOM and UILM unions said in a rare joint statement.

They said vehicle production in Italy fell from over 1.8 million units in 1997 to 700,000 last year, including fewer than 500,000 cars.

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The transition to electric vehicles will put around 73,000 jobs at risk in Italy, metal workers’ unions and a lobby group said on Thursday. (3 February), calling on the government to start discussions on measures to support the automotive industry.

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