At least 290,000 jobs in the UK and Europe will be at risk by 2030 under carbon emission targets for new cars without a plan for a transition from combustible engines to electric vehicles, Unite has said.
The warning comes as new figures showed a fall in new car registrations of 20 per cent in September compared with the same month in 2017.
Diesel sales tumbled 42 per cent year-on-year while sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles such as electric rose by just 3.9 per cent.
The figures follow Wednesday’s vote in the European Parliament which backed a 45 per cent target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions for new cars by 2030.
The UK government’s aim is for all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2050, with a proposed ban on internal combustion engines and diesel vehicles by 2040.
Unite said the current “perilous state” of the UK’s car industry due to the government’s confusion over diesel and disastrous handling of Brexit was being made worse by the Tories’ lack of planning to protect jobs and kills in the transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric to meet emissions targets.
Calling for a “just transition” to electric vehicles Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “This perilous state will deepen unless the UK government develops a detailed action plan to meet the emission targets proposed at both a UK and European level.
“This means going over and above the ministers’ current piecemeal offering with an approach that protects jobs and develops skills as the car industry moves to alternatively powered vehicles.”
Burke said Unite echoes the concerns raised by both IndustriAll Europe and the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association that arbitrary targets in both the UK and Europe are unachievable without a serious transition strategy.
He said, “The EU and the UK needs to take into account hybrid engines which should not be subject to a ban as they are a bridge between internal combustion engines and electric.
“The market alone will not overcome the barriers to mass consumer take up of electric and alternatively powered vehicles or deliver the infrastructure investment needed. National governments need to lead the way with the massive investment needed.”
“UK car workers need government investment and action to ensure our world beating car industry meets the challenges of the future and continues to be a source for quality well paid jobs.”
Unite is working closely with its sister union in Germany, IG Metall, who have recently taken part in a study by the Fraunhofer Institute.
The study found that an automotive fleet composed of 40 per cent hybrid and of 25 per cent fully electric vehicles in 2030, a scenario mirroring proposals from the European parliament, would mean that 108,000 direct jobs are at risk.
As each direct job in the automotive industry creates 1.7 indirect jobs in the supply chain, it would mean that without a transition plan the European Parliament’s proposals would put at least 291,000 jobs at risk by 2030.
Unite is calling for a European wide impact study mirroring the German study which focuses on mass volume manufacturers and regional supply chains.
Read Unite’s electric vehicle report here.