Unite, the UK’s largest union for car workers, cautioned that a call to bring forward the government’s target to ban new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles to 2032 could be undeliverable because of a lack of investment and ministers’ piecemeal approach to the transition to electric and alternatively powered vehicles.

The call, published today (Friday 19 October) by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee in a report called Electric vehicles: driving the transition, comes in the same week the UK government confirmed it would be cutting grants to help buy electric and hybrid vehicles.

Responding to the report, Unite, which gave evidence to the committee, echoed many of the report’s criticisms, but warned that a lack of government investment in electric charging infrastructure, combined with an absence a ‘just transition’ from conventional to electric and alternatively powered vehicles would make targets to reduce emissions meaningless.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “Unite echoes many of the committee’s criticisms over the government’s approach to reducing emissions and the transition to electric and alternatively powered vehicles.

“However, we would caution against bringing forward targets to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles along with dismissing hybrids from the mix.

“The government’s 2040 targets for zero emission cars are in our view damaging to the industry even with grants for electric and hybrid vehicles. Given the government’s decision to cut these grants, then bringing the targets forward to 2032 is a non-runner.

“This is further compounded by the UK government’s lack of investment in charging infrastructure and an absence of planning for a ‘just transition’ to electric and alternatively powered vehicles that protects jobs and skills.

“We need a planned informed approach in the move to zero emission vehicles rather than arbitrary targets. This must include impact assessments of targets on jobs, the supply chain and the regions of the UK.

“The car industry is currently being rocked by Brexit uncertainty and ministers’ mixed messages over diesel. UK car workers need to know the government is backing them and prepared to make the investment and take the action needed to ensure our world beating car industry meets the challenges of the future and continues to be a source for quality well paid jobs.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.