The UK's economy would be boosted by more than £50 billion if the government invests in advanced, ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) according to a report published on Wednesday 13th April.
For this economic benefit to take place, the government needs to act strategically and improve the convenience of low emission cars for drivers says author Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University. A predicted 320,000 jobs would be created and £51 billion per year generated for the economy should this happen, says Prof Saker in the report commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).
Part of the proposals deal with making sure there are enough qualified technicians to service and repair ULEVs, with a shortfall in current expertise found across the country currently. Industry body IMI reports that only 1,000 technicians in the UK are currently qualified with a Level 4 in Electric and Hybrid Car Maintenance, and this isn't enough to maximise economic growth from ULEVs.
Prof Saker said: "The UK by the nature of its size and geography has a natural advantage in the rapid adoption of vehicles with the new power train technologies, but it is dependent on Government investment to pump prime this initiative.
"Without proper regulation a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles. If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy."
Steve Nash, CEO of IMI, said: "The potential growth for the UK economy is immense, and we are calling on the Government to act now in order to reap the financial rewards. To avoid further skills shortages across the sector there is an urgent need for a higher skilled workforce.
"We have seen growth of more than 20 per cent in alternatively fuelled vehicles with Tesla announcing orders of £7bn in only two days for their new model. It's vital we take the appropriate steps now if we want to ensure that the UK has the skilled workforce it needs across the whole industry to support and service these vehicles.
"This will only be possible if appropriate actions are taken with some urgency to avoid a serious and growing skills shortage, most particularly in the non-franchised part of the automotive sector."
The report proposes that the economic benefit of EVs, connected and autonomous vehicles to the country could be in the region of £51 billion per year by 2030. It also suggests that the government should commit to supporting the installation of 1,250 hydrogen refueling stations across the UK to improve the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.