INTRODUCING pay-as-you-charge electric vehicle charging points offers “no incentive” for people on low incomes to switch from “affordable” petrol or diesel options.
The plans being considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority were described as “environmentalism for the middle classes” at a council meeting in Wigan.
Chargers available on the Greater Manchester Electrical Vehicle (GMEV) network are currently free through a mobile app, or a £20-a-year registration fee.
There are concerns that keeping the machines free at the point of use would not be “financially sustainable” as demand for electric vehicles grows.
But Cllr Dane Anderton suggested that the proposed tariff, combined with the price of the vehicles themselves, would put off many people in Wigan.
“They say it would cost between £10 and £14 to charge a Nissan Leaf electric car depending on the charger,” he told a Wigan council scrutiny committee on Wednesday.
“But the car costs around £28,000. You can’t expect people on a basic living wage who can only afford petrol or diesel cars to transition to an electric car.
“(Electric vehicles) have got to be for everyone, and there’s currently no incentive to switch.”
Cllr James Grundy added: “It’s environmentalism for the middle class.
“You’ve got to make sure it’s desirable and affordable for poorer citizens.”
The issue was raised as part of a wider discussion on tackling poor air quality in the borough on a local level and as part of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.
One of the measures included within the regional plan is trebling the number of electric vehicle public charging points on the GMEV.
New planning policy is being developed by Wigan which could ensure that new housing developments include electrical charging points.
But regulatory services manager Julie Middlehurst said electric vehicles were just one option in a ‘whole suite of options’.
“For some people electric vehicles is not viable but 33 per cent of people are making journeys of under one kilometre in their car,” she said.
“Everybody can take small steps to support the air quality agenda. It doesn’t have to be all about electric vehicles.”
Cllr Gena Merrett said people would always prefer to jump in their car in areas with ‘poor’ public transport links.
Paul Barton, director of environment, agreed that the situation was currently poor and that consultation on the deregulation of bus services in Greater Manchester was ongoing.
He added: “I know certain parts of the borough don’t have public transport past 7pm which is scandalous in this day and age.
“We will support anything which improves public transport for the borough.”