Environmentally friendly vehicles form a crucial part of the UK’s green transition and its push to hit net zero emissions by 2050, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
He said a key factor was ensuring electric vehicles could be manufactured at a scale that would drive their price down.
“There is a huge opportunity for this country to lead in low-carbon technology but also to drive jobs and growth. That is what we are doing,” he said.
While low-emission car sales in the UK are on the rise, they still make up a small proportion of the vehicles on the road.
The UK pledged to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. As host of the UN climate summit Cop26 this year, the country is emphasising the need for green efforts to be part of the global economic recovery from Covid-19.
Mr Johnson, speaking in front of a parliamentary select committee made up of senior MPs, rejected claims his government had failed to set out how the UK would meet its climate objectives.
He said “electrifying our fleet” by increasing the number of green vehicles on Britain's roads was important.
“You could not have a more powerful signal on vehicles than what the government said. We’re moving to electric vehicles by 2030 in this country," he said.
“There’s no other country in Europe that has adopted such a brave and bold timetable. What has happened, much to our satisfaction and relief, is that the automotive sector in the UK and around the world has responded and they are investing.”
He welcomed this week's announcement that industry giant Nissan would create thousands of new jobs by expanding battery production at its factory in Sunderland, north-east England.
Mr Johnson said the “key thing” was ensuring that the UK had the scale of manufacturing that ensured the price would be driven down.
Major obstacles to increasing electric vehicle purchases are the high costs of buying the cars and a lack of charging points and Mr Johnson told the committee that reducing costs was high on the government's agenda.