Cabinet Office Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin, has told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee that the switch to electric vehicles as “a colossal opportunity for Britain to play a leading part in an industrial revolution”.
Last year, Mr Letwin was appointed as Chair of a new inter-departmental ministerial ‘Committee on Clean Growth’, which was created following last year’s Volkswagen emissions scandal. He was asked to speak to the Committee on the subject of air quality and decarbonisation.
Mr Letwin took the opportunity to push the “great opportunity” to switch to electric vehicles.
The Minister commented: “There’s a colossal opportunity for Britain to play a leading part in an industrial revolution – which is probably going to happen anyway – but where we have a choice either to be a major part of it or to lag behind it, and we want to be a major part of it.
“We need our motoring manufacturing industry to play a leading role in electric vehicle production and indeed, autonomously connected vehicles. We need also to use that a basis for having a fast transformation of the vehicle fleet.”
Mr Letwin said he believed that a “tipping point” for uptake of electric cars was edging closer, with the fleet industry most likely to be leading the transformation.
The Minister said the government would be looking to unveil a new strategy within the next two years that would place Britain at the forefront of an electric vehicles revolution in terms of both usage and manufacturing.
In response to committee’s question on air quality and the government’s actions to combat pollution, Mr Letwin said that electric cars would play a vital role in meeting environmental targets.
He commented: “I think it’s uniform amongst the Ministerial group the view that the long term solution, maybe even the medium term solution to these issues, lies in the electrification of our car fleet.”
Mr Letwin’s remarks come on the back of Andrew Jones’, the Under Secretary for Transport, comments last month where he said sales of electric cars were ‘rocketing’ and soon expected them to be as commonplace as the internet.
He said: ““Plug-in vehicle registrations reached a record high in 2015, as 28,188 new ULEVs arrived on UK roads, more than the past 5 years’ totals rolled into one.
“The UK now has the most comprehensive rapid chargepoint network in Europe, and home-grown companies such as Chargemaster are making the UK’s ULEV industry a private sector success story.”