Ed Miliband says UK needs 'electric cars'… but DOESN'T own one

Ed Miliband says UK needs 'electric cars'… but DOESN'T own one

March 25, 2021

‘Practise what you preach!’: Awkward moment Ed Miliband declares Britain needs an ‘electric car revolution’… before he’s forced to admit he DOESN’T own one

  • Ed Miliband attacked the government’s plan for a 2030 ban on non-electric cars
  • The Labour MP said it was ‘not taking the bold action necessary to make this fair’
  • He said it needs to be for consumers and manufacturers and ‘not just the richest’
  • He was left red faced when host Susanna Reid asked: ‘I presume you’ve got one’
  • He admitted he has not got one and claimed that plans were a ‘work in progress’

Ed Miliband launched a passionate plea for an ‘electric car revolution across the country’ – before admitting he does not have one himself.

The shadow business secretary attacked the PM’s plan for a 2030 ban on polluting vehicles, saying it was ‘not taking the bold action necessary to make this fair’.

He said it needs to benefit consumers and manufacturers and ‘not just the richest’ as he appeared on Good Morning Britain.

But the former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was left red faced when host Susanna Reid asked: ‘I presume you’ve got one.’

He admitted he has not and claimed it was a ‘work in progress’ as he tried to laugh of shouts of ‘practise what you preach’ from the journalist.

The MP for Doncaster North was on the show to unveil his party’s plans for an electric car ‘revolution’ to give a boost to the industry and create jobs across the UK.

He will make a speech on Thursday afternoon outlining the plans to create new jobs and make owning a zero emission vehicle an ‘option for all.’

The shadow business secretary attacked the PM’s plan for a 2030 ban on polluting vehicles, saying it was ‘not taking the bold action necessary to make this fair’

But it is set to be overshadowed by his performance on GMB, where he said: ‘What I’m saying today is: we need an electric car revolution.

‘But it’s got to benefit consumers and its got to benefit manufacturers and not just the richest.

‘At the moment the government’s announced the ban – the 2030 ban – but it’s not stepping up and taking the bold action necessary to make this fair.

‘No what does that mean, what’re we calling for? Interest-free loans, long-term interest-free loans for consumers so we can expand access not just for the richest.’

He continued: ‘A scrappage scheme so people can trade in their old cars for electric cars.

‘And crucially, and this is a global race, help for our manufacturers to build the gigafactories, the battery factories that are absolutely essential if we’re going to tackle our car industry.

‘I believe that the climate transition can create a better country but it’s only going to happen with bold government action. We’re not seeing it at the moment, government needs to step up.’

Ms Reid asked: ‘I presume you’ve got one.’ But Mr Miliband said: ‘I haven’t yet it’s a work in progress’

Ms Reid asked: ‘I presume you’ve got one.’ But Mr Miliband said: ‘I haven’t yet it’s a work in progress.’

Ms Reid and co-host Adil Ray were astonished and said: ‘What? Practise what you preach.’ 

The MP laughed before replying: ‘It’s a work in progress… We were actually on our way to buying one before lockdown.’

He added: ‘It is going to happen I promise you. I have bought an electric bike but it’s on its way.’

Ms Reid said: ‘So hang on. You’re pushing for everyone to have an electric car and you don’t have one yourself.’

Mr Miliband said: ‘We’re pushing to make it accessible…’ But Mr Ray jumped in saying: ‘But you haven’t even experienced one yourself.

‘You’d like to think if you’re going to tell us all to get an electric car… you would have trialled it out for some time and can tell us whether it’s any good or not.’

The MP laughed before replying: ‘It’s a work in progress… We were actually on our way to buying one before lockdown’

Mr Miliband hit back: ‘Well I’ve definitely been in an electric car and look it’s the way we’ve got to go.

‘It’s the way we’ve got to go for climate reasons. This is the point. This change is coming, this change can benefit our country, I want to be part of that change.’

He added: ‘Like other consumers there are barriers and we’ve got to break down those barriers.’

In a speech in London on Thursday, Mr Miliband will call for part-financing the creation of three new gigafactories by 2025.

He will say it will provide greater security for the sector and shore up Britain’s global leadership in the electric vehicle market.

Interest-free loans should be offered for new and used electric vehicles to those on low to middle incomes to remove the upfront cost barrier, he will say.

Mr Miliband will also call for a quicker rollout of charging points on streets, targeting areas such as Yorkshire, the North West and the West Midlands.

Constructing gigafactories is crucial for the future of the automotive sector, especially in light of the trade deal with the EU, according to Labour.

In a speech in London on Thursday, Mr Miliband will call for part-financing the creation of three new gigafactories by 2025

Mr Miliband will say: ‘To back the car industry and create jobs, Labour would bring forward ambitious proposals to spark an electric vehicle revolution in every part of the country.

‘By extending the option to buy an electric car to those on lower incomes and accelerating the rollout of charging points in regions that have been left out, we would ensure that everyone could benefit, rather than bake in unfairness.

‘While it’s right that government has said the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will end, it’s wrong it is imposing a massive transition on our manufacturers from Whitehall then washing its hands of it.

‘It’s not fair, it will damage our manufacturers, and it will mean losing out on the chance to be the world-leader in the electric vehicle market.

‘Labour would back our manufacturers and the communities with proud histories in the industry, but the Government is asleep at the wheel.’

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner welcomed Labour’s plans, adding: ‘What Labour understands that the Conservatives do not, is that urgent and substantive action is needed if the UK’s world class auto industry, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that come with it, are to make a successful transition to clean energy.

‘If we are to remain a major car manufacturing nation whilst also fulfilling our climate obligations, the government must lose no time in adopting these plans.

‘The green jobs and tech that will be the basis of the country’s economy in the years to come will not appear on their own, the government must lay their foundations in the present.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘We’re investing up to £2.8billion in driving the switch to electric vehicles, working with industry to support the installation of thousands of chargepoints, and boosting the development of new technologies through the Automotive Transformation Fund.

‘Last year, SMMT stats show more than one in 10 cars sold in the UK had a plug, showing that the electric vehicle revolution is already happening up and down the country.’

By cutting the grant, the Government may risk people holding on to their older, more polluting vehicles for longer, says the RAC (file photo)

Earlier this week it emerged grants for electric cars are set to be slashed by £500 and will not apply to the best-selling Tesla vehicle any more.

A government drive to encourage green vehicles on the road has seen it subsidisie 35 per cent of the purchase price of certain models up to a maximum of £3,000.

But a surge in demand has placed huge strain on the scheme, meaning the highest grant available is being dropped to £2,500, while the upper limit of eligible cars is down from £50,000 to £35,000.

As a result, Tesla’s Model 3 – Britain’s best-selling electric car in the last 12 months – will not be covered by the grant any longer due to its £40,500 price tag.

Announcing the cuts, Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: ‘We want as many people as possible to be able to make the switch to electric vehicles as we look to reduce our carbon emissions, strive towards our net-zero ambitions and level up right across the UK.

‘The increasing choice of new vehicles, growing demand from customers and rapidly rising number of chargepoints mean that, while the level of funding remains as high as ever, given soaring demand, we are refocusing our vehicle grants on the more affordable zero emission vehicles – where most consumers will be looking and where taxpayers’ money will make more of a difference.

‘We will continue to review the grant as the market grows.’

The new limitations means models like Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E, expected to hit the market soon, will also not be covered by the grant, though ministers insist overall electric car funding remains unchanged, with more than half of plug-in models still eligible for the scheme even after the change.

The Plug-in Car Grant was launched in 2011 to promote the purchase of greener cars. Back then, the subsidy value was up to £5,000 off the price of a new EV. The value of the grant is now half that amount (file photo)

Graham Hoare, chairman at Ford of Britain, said: ‘Today’s news from the UK Government that plug-in grants for passenger and commercial vehicle customers are being reduced is disappointing and is not conducive to supporting the zero emissions future we all desire.

‘Robust incentives – both purchase and usage incentives – that are consistent over time are essential if we are to encourage consumers to adopt new technologies, not just for all-electrics but other technologies too like plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that pave the way to a zero emissions future.’

But the decision was made with the view that taxpayers ‘should not be subsidising people to buy £50,000 cars’, Whitehall sources told the Times.

The pot will instead be spread more thinly over the next two years.

But it is likely to spark fury not only among manufacturers but also environmental groups, which have urged the government to introduce more incentives so drivers switch from petrol and diesel cars to less polluting models.

Petrol and diesel cars and vans will no longer be sold in 2030, before hybrids are banned five years later as part of the drive towards having greener cars on the road.

More than 100,000 plug-ins were sold last year, nearly three times as much as in the previous 12 months, but that only represented around one in 15 new registrations.

Edmund King, the AA president, said: ‘This is not great news for those waiting for delivery of the stylish entry-level Ford Mustang Mach-E as they will find that the price has ‘gone up’ by £3,000. Many buyers would have been counting on the subsidy.

‘On the other hand, most drivers knew that the ‘free ride’ wouldn’t last for ever and at least more early adopters should be able to benefit from spreading the grant further.’

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes says ministers ‘talk-the-talk when it comes to encouraging people into cleaner vehicles, but cutting the plug-in car grant certainly isn’t walking the walk’.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E (pictured), which is due to arrive in the UK in a matter of weeks, will also not be covered as a result of the grant’s price cap being lowered

The motoring group’s spokesman said the timing of the announcement could not be worse, with the industry already hard hit by the pandemic, with incentives like the Plug-in Car Grant being ‘vital’ to get consumers to go green at a time when personal finances are being hit.

Mr Lyes said: ‘Even though more models are coming on to the market, our research suggests upfront cost remains a concern to drivers when comparing the cost of an electric vehicle with a similarly sized conventional vehicle.

‘By cutting the grant, the Government may risk people holding on to their older, more polluting vehicles for longer.’

The grant to incentivise the purchase of electric and – at the time – hybrid vehicles was launched back in 2011.

When it arrived a decade ago, it offered to pay £5,000 toward the price of a new electric car and some plug-in hybrids to reward early adopters of green vehicles.

This was subsequently reduced to £4,500 and was again scaled down in October 2018 to £3,500 as the government looked to curtail the incentive.

Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Mike Hawes said the decision to slash the Plug-in Car Grant is the ‘wrong move at the wrong time’.

He said: ‘New battery electric technology is more expensive than conventional engines and incentives are essential in making these vehicles affordable to the customer.

‘Cutting the grant and eligibility moves the UK even further behind other markets, markets which are increasing their support, making it yet more difficult for the UK to get sufficient supply.

‘This sends the wrong message to the consumer, especially private customers, and to an industry challenged to meet the Government’s ambition to be a world leader in the transition to zero emission mobility.’

Tesla’s popular Model 3 (pictured) – consistently Britain’s best-selling electric car in the last 12 months – won’t be covered by the grant any longer due to its £40,500 price tag

Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, added: ‘Sales of electrified vehicles have been performing well but they still represent a relatively small proportion of the overall market; the timing of the cut to the grant is unfortunate as a number of private customers are currently waiting for showrooms to reopen to get familiar with new types of vehicles, including EVs.’

Jim Holder, editorial director, What Car?, said slashing the subsidy and restricting its availability for pricier plug-in models could potentially limit the government’s drive to encourage more motorists to switch to electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on sale of new petrol and diesel passenger cars.

He said: ‘Right now, electric car searches and enquiries on What Car? are at an all-time high.

‘This news is sure to dent that long-term – although there could be a small rush to secure the extra discount if the window of opportunity remains for a short period.

‘There are wider implications, too: chopping the grant only widens the gap between EV and ICE [internal combustion engine] prices and emphasises a worrying underlying perception that electric cars are the preserve of the wealthy.

‘So too the removal of the grant threatens the already paper-thin profitability of selling EVs in the UK – with huge grants available in countries such as France and Germany manufacturers will likely focus supply to those countries, again throttling the transition to electrification in the UK.

‘While it was inevitable the carrot of the grant would whittle down over time and eventually be replaced by punitive measures, this feels too soon to take another step on that journey.

‘The 2030 combustion only ban was announced with much fanfare – the thinking behind how to make the transition to that goal appears to be worryingly muddled, with this decision being further evidence of that.’

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