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Government to work with dealers along transition to net zero vehicles

NFDA chief executive, Sue Robinson

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said he is “looking forward to working with dealers” along the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Earlier this year, the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) wrote to Shapps to express “surprise and regret” at the changes to the plug-in car grant (PiCG), plug-in van grant (PiVG) and the plug-in truck grant (PiTrG) rates and eligibility criteria.

In a letter response to the NFDA, Shapps said that the changes were “commercially sensitive” decisions for the Government and that providing advanced notice would result in spikes in demand which are ‘not affordable’ within budgets.

The letter also explained the Government’s objective is to “refocus” the grants on the ‘more affordable’ zero emission vehicles, “the type of vehicle most motorists buy”, he said.

"The scheme was never intended to be a permanent fixture of the market”, Shapps said, and would be phased out as the market matures.

He also acknowledged that since changing the grant, his “officials have held a series of workshops with stakeholders, including one with NFDA members” and they “continue to discuss grant-related issues with your team”.

Sue Robison, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: “Although the sudden nature of the changes to the plug-in grants announced earlier this year was disappointing, it is encouraging to see that the Government is willing to maintain an open dialogue and work closely with NFDA and its dealer members along the transition to zero emission vehicles.”

Car retailers and manufacturers have urged the Government to establish a roadmap to 2030 to help drive electric vehicle (EV) sales.

Shapps said: “We must ensure we are supporting an equitable transition to decarbonised transport and recognise the importance of the second-hand car market in achieving this.

“I look forward to working closely with dealers as we continue along the transition to zero emission vehicles.”

Government's threefold strategy

The NFDA said the letter summarised the Government’s threefold strategy:

  • Offering grants for new zero emission vehicles to help reduce the upfront purchase price, stimulating the market and increasing the supply of vehicles feeding through to the second-hand market
  • Funding charge point infrastructure at homes, workplaces, residential streets and across the wider roads network, to provide motorists with confidence to purchase an electric vehicle
  • Ensuring a framework of supportive policies, such as £0 road tax and exploring introducing initiatives such as battery state of health reports for used cars

Robinson added: “The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP’s response is a positive step as the continued dialogue with the Government helps our members and the whole automotive industry to plan and adapt.

“Franchised dealers are embracing the transition to zero emissions, but it is vitally important that businesses and consumers alike are supported and incentivised.

“We look forward to working closely with the Government and our members during this crucial transition for our sector."

Last week, Government endorsed and co-funded Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) accreditation scheme was mentioned in the ‘delivery plan’ to decarbonise transport by 2050 among the initiatives raising awareness of zero emission vehicles and boosting consumer confidence, said the NFDA.

The NFDA said it is hosting a series of events to support dealers’ transition to zero emissions.

On July 22, a ‘Strategic EV Forum’ held in conjunction with the MHA EV Alliance will take place in Warwick.

In August, ‘EV Readiness Roadshows’ for NFDA members will be held in Newbury, Leeds and Northampton.

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