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The British government’s plate seems to be getting fuller and fuller as 2020 ticks on. Piled under the challenging accompaniments of Brexit closely followed by Coronavirus lies the most devastating matter of all – climate change.

Spurred on by Sir David Attenborough’s words of wisdom at a launch event for the forthcoming COP26 in Glasgow, the UK government announced their plans to move forward the ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles in the UK from 2040 to 2035.

The government’s fast track initiative has prompted the inevitable rise in popularity of EV sales across the UK, but does the country have the right policies and action plans in place to make the transition a successful one?

In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that have played a role in the spike of EV sales across the country. We’ll also explore a few potential policies and infrastructural improvements that the government could take to achieve their road to zero mission.

The Rise in Popularity of EVs around the UK

Before the Covid-19 outbreak swept across the globe, there had been a significant increase in registered BEVs and PHEVs across the UK.

According to the SMMT Electric and Alternatively-Fuelled Vehicle data, March 2020 saw the highest number of BEV registrations ever recorded with a total of 11,694 new BEVs registered in the UK. Fast forward a month to April and BEV registrations amounted to a mere 1,374.

The record-breaking demand/ EV registrations we saw in March 2020 was likely due to an increase in popularity, affordability and vehicle choice not to forego the new government incentive of 0% company car BiK tax rates for all zero-emission vehicles (formerly 16%) in 2020/21. This convincing increase in EV sales reinforces how government policy can have a significant impact on consumers making the switch to all-electric.

With battery prices expected to fall and trendy manufacturers jumping on the EV bandwagon, a significant surge in demand is imminent.

Potential Government Policies and Implementation

It’s been proven that government policies can play a crucial role in encouraging society to move beyond Internal Combustion Engines (ICE). We only have to look at the actions taken by Norway – the world’s largest EV occupants by market share – to identify that plug-in vehicles account for 75% of vehicle sales in the country; 55.9% of which are BEVs alone.

Following on from research conducted by IEA (International Energy Agency) and Green Alliance, we have identified a few attainable future policies the government could potentially implement to boost the uptake of BEVs.

Improved Charging Infrastructure

Having regular access to EV charging stations plays a major role in convincing people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

The introduction of maps like zap map has made planning journeys a whole lot more convenient, but the UK still has a long way to go to ensure the country has enough infrastructure to accommodate an all-electric population.

Investing heavily in charging infrastructure will not only help to create a cleaner urban environment; it’ll also encourage people to buy more EVs. Implementing municipal EV charging stations, residential on-street electric car charging and extensive EV Parking Bays are all small steps that could make a huge difference in persuading the public to make the switch.

Tax Incentives

Offering tax incentives for EV drivers would make the transition to EV life all the more attractive and easier on the pocket. We only have to look at the rise in EV sales as a result of the slashed BiK rates to realise that every penny counts – now more than ever.

Instead of making electric cars cheaper, the government could start by increasing road tax on all petrol and diesel vehicles. This might not eradicate ICE engines overnight, but it’ll certainly make buying an EV more appealing.

Taking a leaf out of Norway’s book, the UK government could also incentivise the public by exempting EV drivers from certain taxes and fees such as: annual road tax, all public parking fees and toll payments, ferry fees, bus lanes, and even free public charging stations.

To make these incentives readily available, the government would need to have the infrastructure in place to deal with the growing demand.


When it comes to prospective government policies that might encourage people to make the switch to EVs, we’ve only just touched the surface. The potential policies we’ve raised have an underlying sense of urgency if the UK is to achieve its Road to Zero target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050.

There are, of course, other gateways such as increasing the funding and development of EV charging technology to produce faster chargers and smaller batteries that will ultimately lead to massive cost reduction and increased production efficiency.

Alternatively, albeit further down the line, the government could implement a policy that requires all public and private sector fleet vehicles to be fully electric at some point of time in the near future.

At the end of the day, people want an abundance of accessible charging stations, affordable running costs and a cleaner environment. If the government can provide the first two desires, the third will inevitably fall into place.


Will Craig is the founder of Lease Fetcher. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.

Image: Mikita Karasiou