Electric cars should face ‘tyre tax’, government advisor says

Particulates generated by tyre wear are more dangerous to public health than diesel exhaust fumes, government expert claims

Electric cars should face a new ‘tyre tax’ to help combat poor air quality, a government clear air advisor has said.

The chairman of the government’s independent science advisory group on air pollution said charges for low-emission zones are likely to be replaced with alternative levies as drivers switch to electric vehicles.

Particles from tyre wear are more dangerous to public health than diesel exhaust fumes, Professor Alastair Lewis explained.

He added: “If you compare a modern Mini now with an old Mini, they’re almost unrecognisable in their size.

“[And] larger, heavier vehicles will generate more particles.”

“PM 2.5 is considered to cause the largest amount of damage to public health… Nitrogen dioxide [from diesel fumes] comes second.”

Professor Lewis, also chairman of the Department for Transport Science Advisory Council, said: “When everybody owns a low emissions vehicle, low emission zones become a toothless control lever to try to manage air pollution.

“A world where we [have] jam-packed roads full of electric cars [also] isn’t a particularly attractive one… Even if they are electric, [they] will generate lots of particles.”

“At some point in the future when most of those cars have disappeared, a different form of air pollution control” is likely to be needed, he added.

“We do have to project forward about how we’re going to manage vehicles in large cities like London in the future when we have a largely electrified fleet of vehicles.”

Luke Bosdet, an AA spokesperson said: “Electric vehicles don’t produce emissions from their tail pipe, they are a massive leap forward.

“The technology will evolve to reduce anything that comes from the tyres.

“You should not deter people from buying electric cars.”

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