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The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) is urging the Government to review the funding and infrastructure plans associated with alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), to make them a viable option for mainstream motorists. Although the Government’s announcement of a £32million charging infrastructure investment will go some way to improving the viability of electric cars, more needs to be done to give consumers the confidence and ability to make the shift to AFVs.
There are currently three options for motorists considering an alternative to petrol or diesel vehicles: hybrid, electric, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, all of which produce significantly fewer pollutants than fossil fuelled cars.
The UK led the European alternative fuel market between January and March this year, with a 64.2% increase in AFV registrations – more than double the European average of 28.8%.
Although the trend indicates a desire from motorists to consider low emission options for everyday motoring needs, the market has not grown as quickly as many had hoped and of the 32million cars on UK roads, only 2.5million are alternative fuel.
The Government currently offers grants of up to £5,000 off the cost of a plug in car and up to £8,000 off a new, plug-in van. But the NFDA says that high prices and a limited network of recharging points mean the proposition of owning an electric car is still less attractive than a petrol or diesel for many potential buyers. There are just 3,000 charging locations across the UK compared to over 8,000 petrol stations.
Manufacturers are making a significant investment in enhancing the choice, range and distance electric cars can travel, but in order to encourage a genuine shift in consumer behaviour the Government needs to do more to make electric cars an attractive choice.
Increasing the existing grant for plug-ins and introducing one for hydrogen cars, whilst also developing the recharging infrastructure, would likely see a significant increase in sales of alternative fuel cars. With extra investment from Westminster to make AFVs a more viable option, the UK has the potential to be a world leader in a greener future.