Transport is the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions and the bulk of these come from cars. Government wants people to switch to cars that do not emit carbon dioxide to eliminate emissions by 2050. By 2030, government wants between 50% and 70% of new cars to be ultra-low emission (plug in hybrids), and by 2050, almost every car to be zero emission (100% electric or hydrogen powered). Government is consulting on ending the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035.
Government has provided subsidies to encourage the uptake of ultra-low and zero emission cars. By March 2020 government had spent over £800m through the plug-in car grant which subsidises the purchase cost of new electric cars. In March 2020, government confirmed a further £403 million of funding to continue the plug-in car grant until 2022-23 and £500 million to support the rollout of fast-charging infrastructure across the country. Our study examines the value-for-money of government’s spending to date and assesses whether it is well-placed to achieve its long-term ambitions for zero-emission cars.