New rules requiring car manufacturers to sell a minimum proportion of zero-emission vehicles have come into force, enacting what the government claims is the world’s ‘most ambitious regulatory framework for the transition to electric vehicles’.
Coming into force on Wednesday (3 January), the ZEV mandate sets specific targets for the sale of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by car and van manufacturers within the UK. By 2030, 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans must be zero-emission, with this figure rising to 100% for both categories by 2035.
For passenger cars, the mandate imposes phased-in thresholds: 22% of each mainstream brand’s car registrations in 2024 must be electric, increasing to 28% in 2025 and reaching 80% by 2030 before ultimately reaching 100% in 2035. Similar, yet slightly lower, annual increase thresholds are in place for new zero-emission vans.
Failure to meet these targets will result in substantial fines for car manufacturers, amounting to £15,000 per model below the required threshold.
This policy follows a series of net zero related policy changes announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in October 2023. Notably, the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars was delayed from 2030 to 2035 to provide consumers with more time to transition to electric vehicles and allow for further development of the country’s charging infrastructure.
According to the government, analysis by the Climate Change Committee suggests the more pragmatic approach is expected to have ‘only a small direct impact’ on future emissions in part due to the ZEV Mandate. However, the CCC says there may be other indirect consequences, through the uncertainty that has been introduced by changing near-term consumer targets.
Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Anthony Browne marked the introduction of the ZEV mandate by visiting a newly established BP Pulse EV charging hub in London, where he emphasised the measure’s potential to boost the economy, support manufacturing jobs, and provide investment certainty for the charging sector.
“We are providing investment certainty for the charging sector to expand our charging network, which has already grown by 44% since this time last year,” he added.
“This will support the constantly growing number of EVs in the UK, which currently account for over 16% of the new UK car market.”
However, research by Versinetic, an EV charging consultancy, highlights charging as a key area for development with 70% of those surveyed citing insufficient on-street charging as the leading infrastructure challenge blocking EV adoption.
Commenting on the study, Versinetic’s Director and Co-Founder, Dunstan Power said, “In terms of what needs to happen for the UK to meet the targets, respondents to our industry survey agreed that investment was needed in areas such as alternative sources of energy, including fusion and nuclear power; more chargers to cope with the growing demand; audits of actual vs. target gains or reductions; stronger legislation on net zero solutions (e.g. planning laws, emission penalties); technology to maintain the future of EVs; and lowering the cost of public chargers.”
The recent introduction of the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandate has been met with cautious optimism. Sue Robinson, CEO of the National Franchised Dealers Association, welcomes it as a “key policy in driving electric vehicle uptake,” acknowledging its potential impact on the automotive retail sector.
However, she also calls for further government action to sustain the positive momentum in EV registrations and bolster public confidence in these environmentally friendly vehicles.
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