Sales of electric vehicles continue to rise, and the second-hand car market is beginning to grow, allowing even more people to access EVs. Yet, despite these encouraging trends, electric vehicle adoption remains concentrated in higher-income households and many drivers won’t have access to the lower running costs and wider benefits of EVs for many years. This presents a fairness and access issue that could cause resentment and a feeling of ‘them and us’.
This is going to be exacerbated in coming years, with the greater levels of new cars sold being electric, largely by fleets or wealthier consumers.
Whilst improvements in areas like charging infrastructure, supply side innovation and investment and commercial fleets will facilitate greater adoption of EVs and bring down their cost over the long term, policy intervention is needed to support ordinary people to transition away from polluting cars.
This becomes even more urgent with the introduction of clean air zones and the UK setting targets for increasing EV sales, meaning that by 2035 all new cars will be electric (or zero-emission). But the transition should not be reserved for the wealthy.
Our report shows three simple, pragmatic and cost-effective ways of getting a broader segment of society into EVs, which also offers wider benefits to the UK.
Salary sacrifice schemes for electric vehicles can save employees 30-60% of the cost of personally leasing the same car.
The government should mandate that all medium and large companies (over 50 employees) must offer an EV salary sacrifice scheme for their employees.
This would be available to all employees subject to existing limitations on salary sacrifice. Implementing this policy would have the dual advantage of boosting the number of people driving clean cars and feeding the second hand car market over time.
The Government should target subsidies for electric vehicles by introducing a subsidised EV leasing programme for lower income households.
Modelled on France’s new social leasing scheme, the government should contract with UK based manufacturers to produce a certain number of ‘no frills’ electric cars per year which will be guaranteed for purchase by the state-backed scheme. Households below a certain income would then be eligible for a discounted lease. The number of cars available per year would be limited.
This measure could be geographically targeted to areas of impacted by clean air zones.
Scotland and France have set a precedent for state provision of interest free loans for the purchase of electric vehicles. The government should make a limited number of zero interest loans available to average income and below households who live in or near clean air zones. Loans would be available to purchase new or used electric cars, and would be paid back without interest over a 5 year period.
This can be delivered either solely by the government through an agency to administer the loans, or in partnership with private finance providers.
We believe these policies would deliver targeted support, as well as help the UK boost its manufacturing and global leadership in this area.
EVA England CEO James Court:We need to make sure everyone across society can access the benefits of Electric Vehicles. EVs are cheaper to run, quieter, and have obvious benefits to the local air quality. We are in danger of creating a chasm of haves and have nots where that needn’t be the case.
EVA England is committed to empowering its members to advocate for clean, zero-emission transportation. This is even more important as we approach a General Election.
Powering Up follows the launch of the Constituency EV Map.
These tools are just the beginning of our efforts to make EVs viable for everyone. We believe that everyone deserves access to clean transportation, regardless of their income or postcode, and we have many more exciting tools coming up.
In the meantime, please spread the word and share our resources on social media, with your friends and family, and at community events. And if you’re not a member yet make sure to join EVA England so that together we can make our voices heard.