Roads Minister Richard Holden has confirmed allocations for 64 local authorities across England from the £80 million investment in the Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) for 2024-25. Local authorities can use the funding to improve local buses by bringing in new services or routes, extending timetables through new morning or evening buses, or by making tickets cheaper.
‘Furore’, ‘about turn’, ‘climb down’ – all of these expressions have been levelled at the UK Government on release of the news that the much-vaunted and well-publicised deadline for the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel internal combustion engine, (or ICE) vehicles has been put back five years, from 2030 to 2035. On the other hand, the news has also been described as ‘sensible’, ‘pragmatic’ and ‘more transparent’, so which stance is the correct one? And what are the reasons behind the change in attitude, and what are the reactions of the various players in the automotive sector? A press release issued from 10 Downing Street says that: “Under revised plans, the Government will move back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, so all sales of new cars from 2035 will be zero emission. This will enable families to wait to take advantage of falling prices over the coming decade if they wish to.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledged that the going could be tough, saying: “There will be resistance – and we will meet it. Because I am determined to change our country and build a better future for our children. Nothing less is acceptable.” Following a mixed reaction from the NFDA, other automotive industry associations have added their opinions to the move.
On Wednesday, 20 September 2023, the UK government announced that the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 has been pushed back to 2035. The National Franchised Dealers Association surveyed its members on this issue in August 2023; 60 per cent of respondents supported an alignment with the European Union, emphasising a lack of confidence in the Government’s current plan to deliver the necessary support the industry needs in achieving the 2030 deadline.
Given the importance of decarbonising transport to reach net zero, the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee launched an inquiry into electric vehicles (EVs) on Wednesday 9 August. The call for evidence is available online here. The aim of the inquiry is to understand how the Government will achieve its target of decarbonising cars and vans in the UK, with a particular focus on passenger cars, as well as exploring the main barriers to doing so. It will also seek to understand the costs, alongside the benefits, associated with the 2030 end date of sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK, and Government progress towards both its 2030 and 2035 deadlines.
Amongst the replies to questions asked prior to the company’s Annual General Meeting on 12 May 2023, Michelin reveals that it gave out up to around €2 million for lobbying activities worldwide in 2022. The company says its lobbying activities are “focused on five priority areas.”
The government of Romania has approved state aid of almost 100 million euros to Nokian Tyres PLC. The tyre maker intends to establish a new factory in Oradea, and the ad hoc regional state aid will finance the costs related to the factory’s establishment and address the financing gap related to this greenfield investment.
Australia’s government has included tyres in the list of products that industry must ensure are handled and ultimately disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner. Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek added tyres to the Minister’s product stewardship priority list for 2022–23. This list was published on 8 November.
The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) is urging Mark Harper, the new Secretary of State for Transport not to mess with the current MOT test frequency and instead look to strengthen the current 3-1-1 testing regime through the addition of testing the vehicle’s electronically-controlled safety systems (ADAS). The IAAF, along with UK AFCAR, is actively highlighting to ministers and their departments the dangers involved if the first MOT is conducted when the vehicle becomes 4 years old and the risks this creates that then threaten road safety.
Following Prime Minster Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle, on Wednesday 26 October, NFDA has written to the new Secretary of States for key Cabinet positions, highlighting the principal challenges the automotive industry is currently facing. Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents car and commercial retailers in the UK commented: “NFDA is the leading figure for automotive retailers in the UK and it is important we maintain our close relationship with Government in order to effectively voice the issues affecting our members. Reaching out to Government’s new ministers, highlighting the key issues currently impacting our sector, will give us a head start in addressing these issues and levelling up our industry.”
The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, has reacted to the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2022, details of which were outlined in Parliament earlier today (23/9/22). Sue Robinson, NFDA chief executive, commented on the announcements made today by the Chancellor regarding National Insurance contributions, Corporation Tax, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, business rates, and infrastructure spending.
The National Franchised Dealers Association has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, urging support to mitigate the impact on UK automotive businesses of spiralling energy costs. Bills for auto dealers are expected to have risen 250 per cent by October. 94 per cent of the association’s members said the energy crisis will have a significant and detrimental impact on their business.
The Petrol Retailers Association is feeling aggrieved at what it considers as unjust and inaccurate criticism of its members from those in Government. Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, explained his members’ feelings thus: “The briefings provided by Government spokespeople to the media indicate that Ministers do not understand how fuel prices are set. We have contacted the Secretary of State for BEIS on multiple occasions offering to meet and explain fuel pricing. However, we are yet to receive a response.”
Reports suggesting UK transport secretary Grant Shapps is once again considering changing MOT frequencies to two-yearly intervals began being published on the evening of 26 April 2022. On the morning 27 April, Shapps was refusing to rule out those changes. Whenever the transport secretary came up with the plans they are old news which has been repeatedly debated, consulted on and ultimately rejected. Such proposals are also “ill-advised” according to the National Tyre Distributors Association, whose chief executive Stefan Hays blasted Shapps’ alleged MOT proposal in a statement released at noon on 27 April.
The Government has announced a number of changes to the Plug-in Car Grant (PICG), the Plug-in Van Grant (PIVG) and the Plug in Motorcycle Grant (PIMG) rates and eligibility criteria. The new terms apply from 07:00 on Wednesday 15 December 2021. The Government has temporarily suspended the grant portal as we transition to the new rates.