It has been reported that UK vehicle manufacturing is once again under threat. Vehicle makers across the country are still reeling from the Brexit fallout, having been subjected to extra costs to import and export, which has reduced their competitiveness in the global market.

Stellantis, the company responsible for the manufacture of Citroen, Vauxhall, Fiat and Peugeot, have threatened to discontinue production of its vehicles in the UK. Their reasons behind this are the electric vehicle quota laws set out by the government, stipulating that 22% of all vehicles sold by a brand must be fully electric. Currently, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders data only 16% of sales are EVs.

Maria Grazia Davino, managing director of Stellantis has stated that the demand for EVs is just not there. Any car makers that are not able to meet the quota could face a fine of £15,000 per vehicle sold that is non-electric, a significant penalty for the car industry.

The European Union allows hybrids to count in CO2 emission targets, if this were the case for the UK the target would be easier to reach.

Stellantis have said they want to keep their production plants open in the UK and are therefore looking towards the government to make purchasing an EV more desirable, with better incentives and perhaps subsidies for the consumer as EVs remain considerably more costly than other vehicles.

Another issue that is affecting the sales of electric vehicles is the lack of investment in infrastructure to charge these vehicles. Furthermore, where the investment is happening the installation of charging points is a slow process and needs speeding up if the UK is to meet its future targets being 28% Zero Emission Vehicles in 2025, 52% of vehicle sales being EVs in 2028 and 80% all-electric by 2030. The final target of 100% of all sales being Electric by 2035.

Stellantis manufacture electric vans at their plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and had recently announced its plans to also produce electric vans in Luton from next year.

Ellesmere Ports Vauxhall factory has come close to closure several times over the last 60 years, and the possibility of Stellantis moving manufacturing overseas must be a worrying prospect for its workers. It was only last September that the plant became the UK’s first factory dedicated purely to making electric vehicles, a huge step forward in the move away from fossil fuels.

“Stellantis will make a decision on whether or not to end UK production in less than a year” said Ms. Grazia Davino. Their chief executive Carlos Tavares stated earlier this year that the company would not sell its vehicles at a loss, so the government needs to think about whether they wish to keep car manufacturing in the UK. The loss of more manufacturing in the country will surely affect the economy as a whole and put more people out of work, a prospect that no government will want.

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