Electric cars worth £51bn to UK economy ‘if Government acts now’

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Government investment in electric car infrastructure, including charging stations and repair garages, could boost the UK economy by £51bn per year according to a report from the Institute of the Motor Industry.

It warns that the government needs to make significant investment in the sector, including upskilling in the UK motor industry, or risk missing out on major economic benefits in the future.

The author of the report, Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University, says that 320,000 jobs could be created if low emission cars are made convenient for drivers to use in the UK.

The report, commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), concludes that the overall economic and social benefit of EVs, connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51bn per year by 2030.

Researchers will present the report’s findings to a cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday (13 April), calling on the Government to focus on protecting the economic growth of the motor industry by acting strategically to make charging low emission cars more convenient for drivers, and ensuring that there are enough skilled technicians to service and repair them.

“The UK, by the nature of its size and geography, has a natural advantage in the rapid adoption of vehicles with the new power train technologies, but it is dependent on Government investment to pump prime this initiative,” said Professor Saker.

“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.”

It will also highlight the need for the government to focus on protecting both the economic growth of the motor industry, and safety concerns across the sector.

Electric vehicles are powered by 600 volt battery units and pose a serious danger of death to untrained personnel.

81 per cent of independent garages currently struggle to recruit highly skilled technicians and the UK retail motor industry is failing to attract young people into technical roles.

Saker suggests the government make it illegal for untrained technicians to work on electric and hybrid vehicles, with a license to practice in order to drive investment in the necessary training.

Only 1,000 technicians in the UK are currently qualified for electric car maintenance. If the technology becomes commonplace, this number will need to increase drastically.

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Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns from Flickr.

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