Scotland’s new Climate Change Act commits Scotland to a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045. This is amongst the most stringent climate targets in the world. Emissions from Scotland’s transport sector (including aviation and shipping) contributed 37% of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

A rapid increase in the number of electric vehicles on our road is one part of Scotland’s plan to cut emissions from the sector. Scotland has consequently shown strong ambition in this area, with the Scottish Government pledging to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032.

However, meeting this ambitious goal will require a rapid shift in purchasing behaviour amongst both private and company vehicle buyers. To achieve a full transition to ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs), it is critical to understand the specific challenges and needs that different car, van and HGV buyers face to develop targeted policies.

The aims of this study:
  • Identify the barriers that currently exist to ULEV uptake.
  • Segment Scottish car, van and HGV buyers by the specific barriers each one faces.
  • Make recommendations to overcome these barriers and maximise the economic opportunity for Scotland.

This report has made recommendations in order to address the identified barriers to ULEV uptake.

Some of these recommendations are:
  • Review ULEV purchase incentives in 2020 when Plug-in Car and Van grants are due to be revised. Purchase incentives should look to close the gap in upfront cost between ULEVs and conventional vehicles, but overall value to buyers should reflect the difference in overall ownership cost
  • Support development of services for fleets and consumers which can show suitability for ULEV adoption and potential cost savings e.g. telematics systems.
  • Signal to manufacturers that Scotland is primed for ULEV uptake e.g. building out public charging network, training garages in ULEV maintenance. 
  • Continue to develop rapid charging network, including extending coverage to minor roads, increasing charge rates and improving reliability. Mobile charging solutions (e.g. BP FreeWire) could be used to test viability of rapid charge points in new locations.
  • Launch a communication campaign to combat ULEV misconceptions and provide clear advice on options for ULEV purchase.