Currently reading: Labour government called on to put automotive at top of to-do list
Keir Starmer previously pledged to bring back 2030 ICE car ban, increase EV chargers, build battery factories

UK car industry bosses have called on new prime minister Sir Keir Starmer to put motoring issues at the top of his to-do list after his Labour Party triumphed with a landslide election victory.

Labour made several automotive pledges as part of its election campaign (see in full below), from promising to reinstate the 2030 ban on the sale of new ICE cars to tackling insurance premiums, introducing a battery health standard for used EVs and aiding the construction of new battery factories.

Starmer also pledged to increase the roll out of EV chargers and mend Britain’s crumbling roads. “Rebuilding Britain means modernising our transport infrastructure,” he wrote in the party’s manifesto. 

Labour’s victory has been applauded by both the BMW Group and Vauxhall owner Stellantis, the UK’s two biggest manufacturers, with major factories in Oxford and Ellesmere Port.

Stellantis UK boss Maria Grazia Davino said: “We congratulate Keir Starmer on his party’s election win. We now look forward to working with the new government on its industrial strategy to improve UK competitiveness, manufacturing, electrification and the ultimate aim of net zero.”

BMW said in a statement: “We look forward to engaging with the new government on the important issues facing the automotive industry.”

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders boss Mike Hawes was another to voice hope at Labour’s election win, given “the new government’s commitment to an industrial strategy and its already-published Automotive Sector Plan”.

Hawes said this “can boost manufacturing competitiveness, enhance trade relations and support consumers”.

He added: “The industry is fundamental to the achievement of net zero, which with the right conditions will deliver the growth the economy needs. 

“We now look to continue our productive partnership with government to ensure the long-term success of the sector and all those who depend on it for their mobility, services and livelihoods.”

Fellow automotive lobby group the Institute of the Motor Industry, which has campaigned heavily on recruitment struggles within the sector, also welcomed the new government.

It said in a statement: “The Labour Party clearly identified its understanding of the importance of skills for UK infrastructure in its manifesto. It was also the only party with a dedicated automotive policy which recognised the contribution the motor industry will play in achieving net-zero goals.

“With a stated plan to allocate £1.5 billion to new gigafactories, as well as restoring the phase-out date of 2030 for new cars with internal combustion engines, clearly there is no time to lose in addressing the current challenges around further education and apprenticeships, as well as uplifting skills in the sector.”

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What were Labour’s automotive manifesto pledges?

Reinstate the 2030 ICE ban

Labour pledged to reintroduce the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. The party believes bringing the ban back to the original date would provide “certainty” for car manufacturers.

This pledge follows the Conservatives’ decision last year to push back the date to 2035.

Help EV buyers

Electric car buyers are also to be supported, Labour said, by “accelerating the roll-out of charge points”. 

As of May 2024, the UK had 12,249 rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at 5336 sites, according to EV firm Zap-Map.

With an eye on the used EV market, Labour will also introduce a battery health standard, making the information clearer and more understandable.

No EV buying incentives have been promised.

Creating a modern transport system

Elsewhere, the party has promised major upgrades of Britain’s roads. 

“Rebuilding Britain means modernising our transport infrastructure”, states the Labour manifesto, adding that the network has been “plagued by long-promised projects that are never delivered”. 

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It says it will maintain and renew the road network, with a keen eye on potholes (RAC data suggests there are more than one million across the UK).

This will be paid for by deferring the Arundel bypass on the A27, which is deemed “poor value for money”.

Battery factories

Labour says it will update national planning policy to make it easier to build EV battery factories, pledging to pump £1.5bn into new 'gigafactory' projects “so our automotive industry leads the world”.

Some £500m will also be spent on green hydrogen manufacturing projects, which could indirectly help the automotive industry, especially schemes looking at the future of HGV powertrains.

It has also promised to pump money into the UK's R&D sector, which includes automotive.

Lower insurance costs

Labour will also tackle “soaring” car insurance costs, it said, without expanding on how it would do this.

Previously, the Association of British Insurers blamed swingeing increases on a number of factors including the costs of parts, repairs and replacement cars and a rise in personal injury claims.

Will Rimell

Will Rimell
Title: News editor

Will is a journalist with more than eight years experience in roles that range from news reporter to editor. He joined Autocar in 2022 as deputy news editor, moving from a local news background.

In his current role as news editor, Will’s focus is on setting Autocar's news agenda; he also manages Autocar Business and Haymarket's aftermarket publication CAT.

Writing is, of course, a big part of his role too. Stories come in many forms, from interviewing top executives, reporting from car launches, and unearthing exclusives.

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johnfaganwilliams 7 July 2024

When will politicians wake up the fact that private buyers don'y easnt electric cars at this time? Best thing to do is get rid of the absurd penalties if manufacturers don't acheive their BEV quotas. None will - so they will go bankrupt. End of another industry. Thank you politics.