In a recent BBC Radio 4 interview on "The Today Debate," Graeme Potts, CEO of Eden Motor Group, shared his insights into the challenges posed by the 2030 net zero deadline for EV-only manufacturing. As an automotive retailer deeply connected to the industry, Graeme expressed concerns about the unintended consequences of this ambitious target and its impact on the automotive market.
Graeme was direct in describing the effects of the 2030 net zero deadline. He stressed that while aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, five years ahead of Europe's target, is noble, it's led to distortions in market pricing, vehicle availability, and consumer choices. He noted, "The distortions we're seeing are a direct result of a political decision, and as a free marketeer, I think that's something to regret.”
He also stated these distortions go beyond economics; they impact society too. Graeme remarked, "I see the impact of this policy as not just negative from [a business] point of view, but I’d go as far as to say socially regressive." He elaborated that the policy has caused overall vehicle prices to rise disproportionately, affecting both internal combustion engine (ICE) and EV models - leaving potential car buyers feeling disheartened.
Graeme also raised concerns about actual retail demand for new battery electric vehicles (BEVs). He revealed the current 16.1% market share of BEVs is mostly from fleet and business, not individual consumers. This lack of retail demand is due to a combination of factors, including higher upfront BEV costs, concerns about charging infrastructure, and consumer hesitancy to adapt their lifestyles.
While early BEV adopters were willing to embrace technology before widespread charging infrastructure, there has been a shift in consumer psychology, noted Graeme. He also observed that “where it was seen as being socially positive environmentally, now even that is being questioned”, suggesting the rise in conflicting theories on EV sustainability is causing hesitancy or even rejection of the industry.
Discussing the Net-Zero Policy’s unintended ripples, Graeme speculated that high BEV prices might be influencing the price of ICE vehicles to increase. By suggesting that manufacturers might adjust ICE vehicle prices to make BEVs appear more appealing due to political pressure, Graeme sees this leading to unintended consequences that go beyond the automotive realm.
In Graeme’s view, sparking more consumer interest in BEV requires a delicate approach that starts with rethinking the net zero policy. Doubts were expressed about the feasibility of achieving the 2030 deadline, as the challenges posed by uncertainties and a lack of clarity were highlighted.
Graeme continued by stressing that the government should pull back from its aggressive target and reconsider the net zero policy. He argued that its effects on pricing, choice, and accessibility are counterproductive, and urged a more balanced approach that considers real-world contexts: "We've recently introduced subscription service as part of a strategic move to explore possible new channels to market… I can see its benefit in bridging the gap for customers who think, in the short term. that an outright purchase might be beyond their budget”.
Despite the outlined challenges from the 2030 net zero deadline, Graeme remains hopeful about industry resilience. He noted that through market fluctuations, vehicle purchases have remained relatively stable, acknowledging that automotive retailers continually find opportunities to adapt and thrive.
To catch the full 37-minute discussion on Radio4, click the link below (expires 31st September).