Tuesday 23 June 2020 2:48 pm

Ford UK chairman calls for government zero emissions strategy

The chairman of Ford in the UK has today called on the government to join with the automotive industry in developing a long-term strategy to hit its target of only selling zero emissions vehicles by 2035.

Speaking at today’s virtual Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) summit, Graham Hoare said:

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“A successful future for the auto industry is dependent on achieving our longer-term objective of a zero emissions future – that is definitely the path we are on at Ford. 

“However, we should be under no illusion that reaching this goal will require an unparalleled level of commitment and cooperation by a range of different stakeholders – government departments, local authorities, the auto industry, energy providers, and customers. 

“We need government to partner with us and have joint equity in formulating and delivering a comprehensive and consistent strategy that encompasses all stakeholders and that provides a path to the future – a path that also encompasses a range of technologies, including mild hybrids, hybrids and plug-in hybrids on the route to zero emissions.”

Previously, the government had planned to phase out petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2040 as part of its aspiration for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050.

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However, in February Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the government would bring forward the ban to 2035.

Hoare said that the transition to electric vehicles would not be made in one step, warning that the difference in cost between EVs and diesel cars was still too great to inspire consumer confidence.

Plug-in hybrids should also be considered a viable technology into the 2030s he added.

At today’s conference, SMMT boss Mike Hawes warned that one in every six automotive jobs in the UK could be at risk if the government does not put together a package to restart the car industry after the pandemic.

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Hoare said that a scrappage scheme would be the best way of stimulating demand and getting people buying cars again.

A VAT reduction would be “of value”, he said, but Hoare is “really keen” to see a scheme that encourages people to trade in vehicles for new, cheap models.