United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Electric Vehicles/Autonomous Technologies

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-11


When it comes to future mobility, the UK government has set the country firmly on the path to electric and autonomous vehicles (EV and AV). In 2018, the UK government announced a ban on the sale of internal combustion engine cars and vans from 2040. However, in February 2020 the target year was reduced to 2035 and then in November 2020 the commitment was brought forward to 2030 as part of the Government’s “green revolution”, meant to cut emissions economy-wide to net zero by 2050. This made the UK the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050. Achieving this will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, use energy and eat.

 “Action from governments and business reinforce one another… as we look to speed up the transition to green transport, we need action from both groups,” Alok Sharma, COP26 President said in 2021 regarding a zero emissions future for road transport. Under its Net Zero Strategy and Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the Government has set aside 12 billion pounds ($16 billion USD), to support multi-sector decarbonization efforts.  The government claims its plan will unlock as much as three times that amount from the private sector, and that the investment will further spur the creation of 250,000 highly skilled green jobs by 2030. Specifically, the plan offers $776 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to make them cheaper to buy. However, the success of converting the nation to EV/AV users will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies. Also, the new deadline of 2030 presents immense challenges for the automotive sector. It should also be noted that under the plan, the sale of hybrid cars and vans will be banned from 2035.

Although the ban on new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles will come into effect in 2030, it is recognized that a plan for the next 20 years is needed to ensure that the roll-out of emerging vehicle technologies addresses numerous critical factors. Crucially, this plan must also look at the bigger picture of how these new technologies fit within and disrupt an already rapidly changing society, one with an increasing population, urbanization and changing consumer needs.

In the short-term, issues surrounding EV costs and charging point provision need to be resolved. In the longer-term, autonomous vehicles promise to shake up the mobility landscape, but trials are needed to resolve ongoing concerns around safety, insurance, and liability.

Infrastructure is key. Battery costs have halved in the last five years. The technology has also improved to provide vehicles with a range that is sufficient for most people’s needs; in some cases they can be driven over 250 miles on a single charge. Nonetheless, infrastructure is needed to support wider usage and to encourage continued take-up. Transport for London (TfL) introduced legislation in 2018 requiring all new taxis to be electric or hybrid. As a result, public transport in London has continued to increase the stock of rapid chargers across the capital needed to support this move.

The widespread expansion of EVs will place additional pressure on UK energy systems. In some cases, local electricity network capacity could be insufficient to cope with rapidly increased demand, and the UK is likely to have the same constraints on mineral inputs for battery production as the rest of the world.   EVs require a high charging load spread across long periods of time, meaning energy must be supplied at the right place and time to maximize efficiency from the network. Part of the solution will be smart grids, which offer the ability to control the timing of charging. This will also create opportunities to balance electricity demand with variable supply from sources such as wind power. Planning for this is required prior to mass take-up of EVs.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Gigafactories – battery production
  • Charging infrastructure/charging stations
  • Electricity network/supply


The following are the key steps that have been highlighted by the automotive sector for achieving the Government’s vision for EV and AVs in the UK, all of which present opportunities for US companies working in this sector:

  • Support the rollout of charging points across the UK: This is crucial to enable large-scale take-up of electric vehicles.
  • Upgrading the UK’s electricity network: reinforcement of power supply is needed to handle EVs at a local level.
  • The eventual roll-out of autonomous and shared vehicles, in accordance with a legal framework and the boundaries for operation once these are fully in place.
  • Testing the technology: further trials are need for autonomous taxis, private vehicles, shared vehicles, freight, shuttle, and bus services before the UK government’s allows autonomous vehicles on our roads.
  • Building the infrastructure: this includes physical changes to parking capacity, drop-off/pick-up space, and digital requirements for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communications.


UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles

UK Government’s overview of steps towards net-zero and end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

UK Government Legislation: Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018

UK Government report on building a comprehensive and competitive electric vehicle charging sector

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders: Blueprint for the Electric Vehicle Revolution