The Government has a long-standing programme of support to maintain the competitiveness of the UK automotive sector. Through our Industrial Strategy and landmark Automotive Sector Deal, we are placing the UK at the forefront of new automotive technology development. Government and industry have committed £1 billion over 10 years to 2023 through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). Government has also committed £274m to the Faraday Battery Challenge, and circa £80m in the last Budget to the Stephenson Challenge, newly named ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’.
In May 2018, as part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, my rt. hon. Friend the Prime Minister launched our mission to put the UK to be at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. The Road to Zero strategy sets out a clear pathway to zero emissions. In order to achieve this, we are investing nearly £1.5bn between April 2015 and March 2021 with grants available for plug in vehicles, schemes to support chargepoint infrastructure and grant funding to support R&D into cleaner vehicle technologies.
There are a number of manufacturers already producing electric vehicles in the UK or with ambitious plans to begin production in coming years. The Nissan Leaf – manufactured in Sunderland - is currently the UK’s best-selling electric vehicle. From later this year, BMW’s MINI Electric – launched this month – will be made at its Oxford plant. Jaguar Land Rover also announced this month its commitment to invest in building a new range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham, and the first of the new vehicles to be produced will be the new, all-electric Jaguar XJ. In September 2018, Aston Martin Lagonda announced that its new production facility in Wales will become the home of its electric vehicle range.
Global demand for UK designed, engineered and manufactured vehicles is strong and the industry has one of the highest productivity levels in Europe. In 2018 the UK was the second largest market for ultra-low emission vehicles and the fourth largest market for battery electric vehicles in the European Union. The UK is also global leader in the development and manufacture of electric vehicles; in 2018 a fifth of battery electric cars sold in Europe were made in the UK. So far in 2019, sales of battery electric vehicles have increased significantly, up by 60% over the same period in 2018. There are 200,000 ultra-low emission battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles registered in the UK.
This Government will continue to work closely with the automotive industry, to ensure that it can succeed globally long into the future as it invests in electric car manufacturing. We are determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for the automotive sector.