Leadership and incentive now call

Car scrappage scheme in itself won’t protect UK jobs, warns Unite

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Unless the government takes additional measures to support infrastructure and the UK manufacture of electric vehicles, proposals to introduce a car scrappage scheme to help address climate change will fail to provide a vital boost to the UK’s car industry, Unite has warned.

Responding to speculation that the government is considering introducing a new car scrappage scheme – which would see buyers being given £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric model, Unite has warned that further urgent investment and infrastructure development is needed to maximise the success of any initiative.

Moreover, its introduction now could well delay consumers from buying existing models – including hybrids – which keep the UK industry alive and provide the investment needed for the transition to full electric vehicles.

“The introduction of a car scrappage scheme must also coincide with a dramatic move to produce a far higher number of electric models and components in the UK, otherwise the scrappage scheme will simply benefit overseas producers and not domestic production,” commented Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.

Currently the UK does not have the charging infrastructure in place to make electric cars an attractive proposition for many drivers.  If the scheme were to be brought in now, it wouldn’t be advantageous to the UK’s struggling automotive sector, as very few electric-only cars are currently built in the UK.

So with the transition to electric cars not realistically imminent in the UK, Unite believes consideration and support must also be given to highly modern low emission internal combustion engines – which are being built in the UK.

‘Intergrated approach’

“As part of an integrated approach to transitioning the automotive sector this could be a game changing initiative,” believes Turner. “But for that to be achieved the government will need to announce a rapid expansion of the charging infrastructure and, in particular, the provision of fast charging points.

“Drivers are not going to invest in an electric car if they are concerned about its range and worried about the difficulty of charging it.

“The transition to electric vehicles will not occur overnight.  During this period the government must also be promoting and assisting the new generation of low emission, internal combustion engines that are produced in the UK,” he added.

Of further concern for Unite is that the UK doesn’t currently produce a transit-sized electric van – a huge missed opportunity to actively contribute to meeting the climate change challenge.

Steve Turner believes now the government must turn its eye to keeping jobs and skills in the UK.

“With the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, tens of thousands of automotive jobs are at risk and any initiatives that the government considers must be focused on securing and promoting skilled employment in the UK.

“It is essential that the government provides leadership right now and introduces any incentives, as the French have done, with measures targeted at promoting UK manufacturers and component suppliers. Incentivising the industry to produce an electric van here in the UK would be a good start,” he said.

Compiled by Amanda Campbell @amanda_unite

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