Public Sector Focus

04.01.17

EVs at the heart of industrial strategy plans

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 17

PSE reports on the latest announcements around electric vehicles, including new funding in the Autumn Statement and further commitments from cabinet ministers to expanding the sector.

Following new funding promises for electric vehicles (EVs) from chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement last month, business secretary Greg Clark MP guaranteed the automotive sector will be at the heart of the government’s upcoming industrial strategy. 

In his statement, Hammond unveiled a £390m package to support ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), renewable fuels, and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) by 2020-21 in order to “build on our competitive advantage” in this field. 

The funding package was broken down into £80m for ULEV charging infrastructure, £150m in support for low-emission buses and taxis, £20m for the development of alternative aviation and heavy goods vehicle fuels, and £100m for new CAV testing infrastructure. 

The chancellor also announced 100% first-year capital allowances to companies investing in the installation of EV charging infrastructure, which has already taken effect and will be in place until March 2019. 

The announcements were a clear first indicator of the government’s commitment to focus on this sector in a post-Brexit economy, and were later reinforced by the business secretary. 

Speaking at a meeting of automotive leaders from the Midlands in late November at the University of Warwick, Clark said the sector would be an “emblematic area of focus” for the government, as well as one of the “big features of the world and Britain’s industrial policy during the weeks, months and years ahead”. 

“This is a sector – and particularly the EVs, CAVs, battery storage – that couldn’t be a more emblematic area of focus that the industrial strategy will back and enable,” he told attendees. “The pace of this is quickening all the time and so is our commitment to it. This is a big moment, for a hugely important combination of sectors technologies and institutions.” 

Enabling opportunities 

As PSE went to press, the government was still developing an outline of its industrial strategy, due out before the end of the year. But some industry leaders, such as Jaguar Land Rover, had already signalled intentions to grow their UK workforce over the next few years as they expand into battery technology and EVs. 

Ralf Speth, the company’s chief executive, said at the same event that Jaguar is keen on building EVs in the West Midlands, which he described as the “home of our design and engineering” – but that there isn’t enough capacity to produce them at the necessary scale and speed, and costs in the UK are high compared to other countries. Speth called on the government to be “the enabler” of these emerging opportunities. 

In response, the business secretary told him that Jaguar could “count completely not just on my commitment, but my involvement in progressing those discussions to turn them into actions”. 

Martin Yardley, acting chief executive at Coventry City Council, told Clark that the region now has an opportunity to “deliver thousands of new jobs and go beyond the internal combustions engine”. 

Similarly, Jonathan Browning, chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, said that while the industrial strategy was in its early days, it was “pleasing to see that government recognises not only the importance of the advanced manufacturing sector but also the need for us to be at the forefront of developing the automotive technologies of the future”. 

“Jaguar Land Rover will be leading that vanguard and has spelled out its ambitions to produce electric cars, along with the growth and investment that will bring both directly and to the regional supply chain,” Browning concluded.

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