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Supply of new electric cars could 'trickle' to UK customers after Brexit


The supply of the latest electric vehicles to the UK could be heavily restricted if there’s a No-Deal Brexit, a green transport group has warned.  

If Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement, Transport & Environment warned that manufacturers would prioritise other markets as part of efforts to hit strict EU air pollution targets set for 2021. 

As a result, deliveries of the latest electric cars to British motorists would slow to a ‘trickle’, as other nations received the bulk of the newest vehicles with extended ranges, shorter charge times and lower prices, the environmental group warned this week.

Short supply: Experts claim that vehicle manufacturers will prioritise deliveries of the latest electric cars to European markets over UK customers if there is a Brexit no deal

Short supply: Experts claim that vehicle manufacturers will prioritise deliveries of the latest electric cars to European markets over UK customers if there is a Brexit no deal

In a new report on Thursday, T&E estimated that in two year’s time there will be 214 different electric car models available to customers in Europe as auto makers ramp up the availability of plug-in vehicles.

Of these, 92 will be battery electric models and 118 plug-in hybrids. 

That’s up from the 60 electric models that were available at the end of 2018 – a 257 per cent growth in options over three years.

Manufacturers are under growing pressure to roll out their latest low emissions vehicles as quickly as possible, as part of efforts to meet strict EU car carbon dioxide targets for 2021.

Vehicle makers’ ranges need to emit no more than 95g/km of CO2 on average in 2021, with electric models being the biggest contributors to reduce their overall outputs.

But in the event of a no-deal Brexit cars sold in the UK will not count towards the EU target and manufacturers will therefore prioritise supplying electric cars in countries where sales help meet their tougher rules. 

Vehicle maker's ranges need to emit no more than 95g/km of CO2 on average in 2021, with electric models being the biggest contributors to reduce their overall outputs

Vehicle maker’s ranges need to emit no more than 95g/km of CO2 on average in 2021, with electric models being the biggest contributors to reduce their overall outputs

T&E said Britons could struggle to get their hands on next-generation electric vehicles with extended ranges, shorter charge times and lower prices

T&E said Britons could struggle to get their hands on next-generation electric vehicles with extended ranges, shorter charge times and lower prices

It's estimated that in two year's time there will be 214 different electric car models available to customers in Europe as auto makers ramp up the availability of plug-in vehicles

It’s estimated that in two year’s time there will be 214 different electric car models available to customers in Europe as auto makers ramp up the availability of plug-in vehicles

Greg Archer, UK director at T&E, said: ‘Thanks to new EU rules, a wave of new, longer range, and more affordable electric cars will be on sale across Europe. 

‘But if the UK leaves the EU with no deal it will no longer be part of these rules and the cars sold in the UK won’t count towards meeting the carmakers’ targets. 

‘As a result, cars simply won’t be made available in large numbers in the UK, slowing progress in the shift to zero emissions cars here.’

The group added that the UK government has proposed to introduce its own emissions targets for vehicles, though there is ‘almost no time to implement an equivalent UK scheme that requires Parliament approval if the UK exits the EU on 31 October’. 

T&E also analysed industry experts IHS Markit’s forecasts of planned production and found that electric vehicle outputs in the UK look set to slip behind other major European nations.

Some 335,000 electric and plug-in hybrid cars are due to be produced in the UK between 2019 and 2025 – significantly less than that forecast for France (785,000), Germany (1,591,000) and Spain (510,000).

This map shows the production hubs for electric vehicles across Europe by 2025. While the UK has a few dedicated facilities, it is expected to fall behind the outputs of other nations

This map shows the production hubs for electric vehicles across Europe by 2025. While the UK has a few dedicated facilities, it is expected to fall behind the outputs of other nations 

BMW recently confirmed the new Mini Electric will be produced at the brand's Oxford plant

BMW recently confirmed the new Mini Electric will be produced at the brand’s Oxford plant

There is also considerable uncertainty over whether planned wider vehicle production is going to happen in the UK following Brexit. 

Vauxhall owners Peugeot-Citroën recently warned that future assembly of the Astra at Ellesmere Port was dependent on the post-Brexit arrangements.

However, in a piece of good news for the industry, Jaguar Land Rover recently committed to build electric cars, including the next generation XJ, in Britain. Meanwhile, Mini said it would build its new electric vehicle in Oxford.

The analysis also shows there are no new battery factories planned for the UK, but 16 large-scale lithium ion battery cell plants are confirmed or likely to come online in Europe by 2023. 

Based on data from the EU’s Joint Research Centre, battery manufacturing on this scale will create around 120,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the battery value chain, but the UK appears to be missing out, T&E said.

‘Carmakers are investing £130 billion in electrification across the EU but the UK is getting a smaller share than would be anticipated and missing out on the new jobs this will create,’ Archer added.

‘It is imperative the UK doesn’t fall behind other EU countries in either sales or production of electric cars and a ‘no deal’ Brexit makes this likely. 

‘Across Europe the age of the combustion engine is coming to an end – whether this includes the UK remains to be seen.’ 

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