Government urged to do more to help forecourt retailers in transition to EVs

electric car charging
Photo: Miles Willis/Getty Images

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged the government to do more to support forecourt retailers as the prime minister announced a range of environmental initiatives including a ban on petrol and diesel vehicle sales from 2030.

Boris Johnson has earmarked £12 billion for the wide-ranging plans, which he hopes will secure up to 250,000 jobs and help meet a target for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The proposals include accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and transforming the national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles while scaling up hydrogen production capacity for industry, transport, power and homes.

Investment will also be made in zero-emission public transport, alongside research into zero-emission planes and ships, and in making cycling and walking “more attractive”.

The 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans follows what Downing Street called “extensive consultation with car manufacturers and sellers”.

Johnson had said in February his government would aim to end such sales by 2035, but will now only allow the sale of hybrid vehicles until that year.

“The prime minister has confirmed the existing policy of banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, but we are pleased that some hybrid cars will be allowed to be produced and sold for a period after 2030, helping drivers and fuel retailers to move more smoothly towards this radically different model for powering vehicles,” commented James Lowman, ACS chief executive

“This will bring huge challenges for petrol forecourt retailers: maintaining supply of petrol and diesel to a declining but very large market of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, offering fast and convenient charging facilities to EV drivers many of whom will typically charge at home or elsewhere away from the current forecourt network, and responding to other developments in powering vehicles, for example hydrogen.

“Every method of powering vehicles requires significant investment to offer safely and effectively, so these businesses need support and positive incentives to help with this transformation.

Figures from the ACS Forecourt Report show that of the UK’s network of around 12,000 charging locations, just over 250 charging points are located on forecourts (excluding service stations). There are around 142,000 fully electric vehicles and 196,000 PHEVs registered in the UK.

Under the new plans, the government will invest £1.3 billion on expanding electric vehicle charge points in homes and streets across England, and make £582 million available in grants for people to buy zero or ultra-low emission vehicles.

Meanwhile nearly £500 million will be spent in the next four years on the development and production of electric vehicle batteries.

The government is also set to invest £1 billion in a grant scheme launched in September, and now to be extended for a year, to make homes and public buildings more energy efficient.