Sir Tom Hunter has urged the Government to listen to manufacturers when framing net zero transport policies after Toyota warned UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps it may cease making cars in Britain unless the mandate for a rapid switch to pure electric vehicles is watered down.

“It all comes back to balance,” Sir Tom told Go Radio Business Show host Donald Martin. “The climate debate has been won from the point of view of saying we need to be greener. But the devil is in the detail.

“If governments come out and don’t listen to business about how rapid the transition to net zero can be, that would be a bad thing. You really can’t have politicians dictating to business, saying: ‘You will do this by then!”’, because there will be bad consequences as well as good.

“Should governments be listening to business? Absolutely! Toyota know what they’re doing about manufacturing cars and are saying: ‘If you push this too quickly, we will cut our manufacturing.’ Somebody should be listening to that.”

Lord Willie Haughey agreed that manufacturers are being pushed too hard, adding: “We all want a cleaner climate. But Toyota would tell you, if the government made it law tomorrow that every car coming out had to be electric, they simply couldn’t do it because the equipment and materials are not there.

“We should be on a path to be carbon neutral across everything we do, however we have to be realistic about the time and the money it’s going to take to get there.

“I think, if we have a grown-up conversation about this, we will find a solution that would fit most of the big manufacturers – and I don’t think they’re being unrealistic in this.”