The way towns and transport are laid out and organised is changing. The UK is working to improve environmental quality of life and combat pollution in urban areas through innovation in transport processes and logistics. By law the UK’s emissions must now be net zero by 2050 and the UK is taking measures to decarbonise transport. Interesting opportunities exist for Dutch companies in the areas of electric vehicles, micromobility and active travel.
The UK government aspires to be a world leader in both the production and use of electric vehicles. For example, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030 as well as the sale of hybrid cars and vans from 2035.
Electric vehicles are becoming more popular, in part due to the growing number of models available, giving consumers greater choice. Public opinion on electric vehicles has also become more favourable, and the network of charging points is being constantly expanded.
The Netherlands is some years ahead of the UK in charging infrastructure, offering opportunities for Dutch companies that have built up considerable knowledge in this area.
Opportunities include smart charging solutions, mobility services and battery management. You can read more about these opportunities in our report on Electric Vehicles (in Dutch).
While challenges remain to be solved in decarbonising transport, micromobility – small vehicles such as e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds - plays a vital role in achieving cleaner, sustainable modes of travel. In its Future of Transport Programme, the UK aims to stimulate innovation in the transport sector and create new transport markets. Backed by £92 million investment, demonstrators of new digitally enabled mobility services are given the opportunity to test concepts such as Mobility-as-a-Service in different areas. For example, across England there are 32 regional trial areas for e-scooters which will be used to inform future government policy.
In 2010 the then London mayor Boris Johnson launched a revolutionary plan to promote cycling as a healthy and efficient mode of transport. Since then a real cycling revolution has begun, not just in London but in the whole of the UK. There has been a strong increase in interest in cycling, as well as in improving the cycling infrastructure, the human environment and air quality.
During the first Covid lockdown in the spring of 2021, many roads were closed to motor traffic to allow more people to cycle and walk freely and safely across the UK. So many Brits (re)discovered the bicycle on the deserted streets. In the summer of 2020 followed an ambitious national cycle and walking strategy named ‘Gear Change’. Many of temporary measures have been turned into permanent ones since then and more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) have been created around the country. However, not all temporary traffic measures were maintained or made permanent.
The roads are no longer empty and in many places back to normal traffic volumes apparently. What hasn’t changed is the much-increased volume of bicycles on the roads. This is set to increase even more once all work places open their doors again to more staff. Bicycle sales soared to 70+% in 2020 and sales continue steadily. Where e-bikes were virtually absent from Britain’s roads before the pandemic, sales are up by 40% compared to 2019. So have the sales of e-scooters, albeit private e-scooter use being formally illegal for now. A wide e-scooter rental trial is now in place across London.
Active travel is an important part of the green recovery plans of the British government and it has boosted the mobility transition to greener means of transport and active travel (waling and cycling).
The Department for Transport announced £2bn for cycle and walking infrastructure, with the aim to double to number of cyclists in 5 years (from 2 to 4%). Cycle campaign organisations have however calculated that a mere £6 to 8bn would be necessary to realise these ambitions. For 2020-21 £257m has been budgeted, the £2bn are yet to be confirmed.
Dutch knowledge and experience in regard to cycling, infrastructure, urban design and planning are in great demand. The Dutch Embassy therefore regularly arranges for Dutch cycling experts to speak at seminars, webinars and conferences and by working in partnership with local cycling groups, national, local and transport authorities. We also have a UK cycle infrastructure market report that can be requested from the Embassy team.
How can the Embassy help you?
If you are a Dutch business and you would like to know more about the UK market for electric vehicles, active travel, micro mobility and smart cities, you can contact the Embassy team. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Contact Terence Speijer if you would like to know more about electric vehicles (EV) and Connected and Autonomous vehicles (CAV) or Tessel van Essen if you have questions about active travel.