The Government needs to make a significant investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and upskilling of the UK motor industry or risk missing out on major economic benefits in the future.
That’s according to an academic report, due to be published on Wednesday (April 13).
The author of the report, Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University, says that 320,000 jobs could be created and £51 billion per year generated into the UK economy but only if the Government acts strategically to make charging low emission cars convenient to drivers, and to make sure there are enough qualified people to service and repair them.
The report, which was commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), will be presented to a cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday by Saker and IMI CEO Steve Nash. They will highlight the need for the Government to focus on protecting both the economic growth of the motor industry, and the safety concerns across the sector.
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.”
With 81% of independent garages struggling to recruit highly skilled technicians and the UK retail motor industry failing to attract young people into technical roles; it’s clear that unless a proactive strategy is undertaken the UK will not be able to support the growth of future car technology safely, says the IMI.
Saker suggests the Government make it illegal for untrained technicians to work on electric and hybrid vehicles with a license to practice in order to drive investment in the necessary training.
With only 1,000 technicians in the UK currently qualified with a Level 4 in Electric and Hybrid Car Maintenance, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) believes it is likely that the potential benefits to the UK economy from this development will not be realised.
Nash 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% 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."