PM’s speech at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit: 11 September 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May's speech at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit in Birmingham.

Prime Minister Theresa May at the head of the Automotive Investment Roundtable with "Invest In GREAT" banner in the background

I am delighted to welcome you all to the Midlands. Right at the heart of Britain’s automotive industry. Here, we are incredibly proud of our manufacturing history – home of some of the biggest brands in the world, the Mini, Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover – and equally proud that this is where the future of travel is now being made.

Now alongside Formula One – so much a British institution – we have Formula E leading the way at the cutting edge of green automotive technology, and this just shows how exciting this future can be.

Our automotive industry is one of this country’s great success stories. And as Britain looks to the future – as we build a global, outward facing country outside of the European Union, and as we forge a stronger, fairer economy – we are building on our strengths and investing in Britain for the long term.

We have an impressive track record in research and development, world class talent and skills, some of the best universities around the globe and one of the most productive research bases in the world.

Over the next decade, we will see the biggest ever increase in R&D investment in our history, aiming for total R&D to hit 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Our corporate tax is the lowest rate in the G20. And through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are backing the industries and technologies of the future, as we foster growth in every corner of our country.

At the heart of that strategy are four grand challenges – global trends set to change the way we live and work – including clean growth and the future of mobility.

Because, over the coming years, the way we commute, travel and have our goods and services delivered will change irrevocably.

Electrification, self-driving cars, delivery drones and electric cargo bikes – will all help reduce traffic, improve journey times and safety, and free-up space in our towns and cities.

But innovation will also clean up our air – and that is why we are here today, at this, the UK’s first zero-emission vehicles summit.

How we accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles – and ensure cleaner air for all our people – is one of the most pressing issues in modern transport. That we have here government representatives and industry experts – from every continent – shows how global this issue is, affecting towns and cities around the world. And as we stand on the brink of the next revolution in transport – a green revolution – I want to see Britain, once again, leading from the front and working with industries and countries around the world to spearhead change.

That is why I have set this country an ambitious mission. To put the UK 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.

Already we are taking significant strides forward. Our electric, UK-manufactured cars account for one-in-five sold in Europe. Our batteries are among the best in the world.

And our Road to Zero Strategy is the most comprehensive plan globally – mapping out in detail how we will reach our target for all new cars and vans to be, effectively, zero emission by 2040 – and for every car and van to be zero emission by 2050.

We are investing in the design, development and infrastructure needed to speed up the uptake of green vehicles. We are providing £1.5 billion for ultra-low-emission vehicles by 2020, and creating a £400 million fund to invest in the roll-out of charging point infrastructure, in partnership with industry.

We have legislated to ensure charge points can be easily accessed and available at motorway service stations and other petrol stations.

We will consult on the introduction of green number plates – and how they might be used to promote clean vehicles and increase their use.

We are providing a £2 million grant for e-Cargo bikes, creating a zero-emission option for last mile deliveries.

And today we have provided over £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low-emission vehicles and hydrogen technology. With a further £500 million of investment from key industries in this sector, creating over 1000 jobs across the UK.

So we are driving change further, and faster.

But this is not just about new technologies. It is also about new skills and job opportunities – which is why I am delighted that Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership has invested in a new Degree Apprenticeship Centre with the University of Warwick, focusing on the high-value manufacturing sector and backed by £10 million of government local growth funding.

Together, all these measures will drive the design, use, uptake and infrastructure necessary for cleaner, greener vehicles – and in doing so, it will help us drastically reduce a major contributor to our global warming emissions, as we seek to meet the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

But we cannot do this alone. At the One Planet Summit last year I announced we would invite, to the UK, policy makers and industry leaders from across the world to provide impetus to this vital market. We are here today because the issues we face are not the preserve of any one country. They belong to all of us – and they require all of us to pull together, to solve the problems that all our countries face.

Governments, industry, innovators from around the world need to work together to transform the development of the zero-emission vehicles market.

So, this afternoon I am hosting an Automotive Investment Roundtable with leading supply-chain companies from Germany, the USA, Japan, China, Spain and India, to explore what more we can do to accelerate the development of a zero-emissions market – and to highlight the UK’s offer. Today demonstrates that the government’s commitment and comprehensive strategy has given businesses the confidence to invest and to innovate, and help deliver the zero-emission transition for the benefit of us all.

And I want to urge everyone here to make the most of this summit, make connections, explore possibilities – and to use this as a starting point to convince others of the importance of the green revolution in transport.

And let’s not lose sight of why this is so important.

Because yes, it’s about innovation, new ideas and exciting developments.

But it is about so much more – for ourselves, and for the generations to come.

So that our children in schools and nurseries that sit alongside main roads - do not have to breathe in harmful emissions in a bid to get an education.

So that our cities’ parks and green spaces really are places where you can get out and get some clean, fresh air.

So that families everywhere – from the country to the city centre – can ensure a healthy environment even for their most vulnerable members, young and old.

We have long lived with the idea that traffic is polluting. We know that no longer needs to be true. And we are on the brink of making it a thing of the past.

Let’s do so together. And transform the world in which we all live for the better.

Published 11 September 2018