Comprehensive charging infrastructure is needed to increase the popularity of the vehicles

Electric car investment could yield £51bn for UK economy

Government investment in electric car infrastructure - including charging stations and repair garages - could boost the UK economy by £51bn per year, according to a report from the Institute of the Motor Industry.

It warns that the government needs to make significant investment in the sector, including upskilling in the UK motor industry, or risk missing out on major economic benefits in the future.

The author of the report, Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University, says that 320,000 jobs could be created if low emission cars are made convenient for drivers to use in the UK.

It will also highlight the need for the government to focus on protecting both the economic growth of the motor industry, and safety concerns across the sector.

Electric vehicles are powered by 600 volt battery units and pose a serious danger of death to untrained personnel.

81 per cent of independent garages currently struggle to recruit highly skilled technicians and the UK retail motor industry is failing to attract young people into technical roles.

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.

Only 1,000 technicians in the UK are currently qualified for electric car maintenance. If the technology becomes commonplace, this number will need to increase drastically.

However, current adoption rates around the world are not increasing as fast as earlier predictions. The American energy secretary recently admitted that the US will not see one million electric vehicles on its roads until 2020, despite the earlier prediction from President Obama that this number would be reached by 2015.

"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,” Saker said.

“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."

The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory unveiled a super-efficient wireless charging system for electric cars last week.

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