22nd June 2022

Driving Towards Net Zero


The automotive and transport industries are in the midst of a monumental change of gear as drivers move away from petrol and diesel cars towards low-carbon alternatives. Hybrid cars have grown steadily in popularity since their first introduction to commercial markets in Japan in 1997. Whilst 190,000 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in the UK in 2021 – a long way from their humble beginnings in Robert Anderson’s Aberdeen workshop in 1839. Over a quarter of new cars sold in December 2021 were electric, and the trend is likely to continue as EVs become cheaper, more efficient and longer range.

Even with these shifts in consumer habits, the transport sector is the UK’s largest emitter, with 91% of transport emissions coming from road transport. To combat this the UK Government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy published in March 2022 aims to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and for all new cars and vans to emit zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. The strategy also focuses on providing convenient, affordable on and off street charging options, and targets 300,000 public charge points by 2030. Combined with leading retailers commitment of over £3 billion to the zero emission vehicle sector, the automotive revolution shows no sign of putting on the breaks.

The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimates the UK automotive industry to be worth more than £60 billion turnover, employing 156,000+ people in manufacturing and over 797,000 in the wider industry. The industry is adapting as more low-carbon cars appear in forecourts and repair shops, including preparing the workforce to deal with new technology.


With electric and hybrid cars becoming increasingly popular, and hydrogen fuel cell cars on the horizon, support services traditionally focused on petrol and diesel cars will need to re- and up-skill their workforce to meet demand. The North East Scotland College is helping businesses gear up for the future and prepare students for future jobs with new low-carbon automotive courses.

This is just one example of the skills and training system evolving to meet industry and workforce needs in the face of energy transition.