Smart Transport

Government plans zero emission vehicle mandate from 2024

Electric vehicle (EV) charging

The Government wants to introduce a new zero emission vehicle mandate that will set targets for a percentage of manufacturers’ new car and van sales to be zero emission each year from 2024.

The ZEV mandate was revealed as part of the Government’s long awaited Net Zero Strategy, which was published today.

The Government says it will consult on its ZEV mandate plans in early 2022. It will seek views on the design of the ZEV mandate (including uptake trajectories) and CO2 emissions regulation (as a backstop to ensure standards in the remainder of the fleet are maintained), and how and when targets will be set and enforced.

Key commitments in the strategy document include an additional £620 million for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, with a particular focus on improving local on-street residential charging and targeted plug-in vehicle grants.

An EV infrastructure strategy document is expected to be published later this year to add more detail on the Government’s plans.

A further £350m of the Government's up to £1 billion Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) will be made available to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.

The Government has also said it will lead by example by switching up to 25% of its own fleet of vehicles to ultra-low emission vehicles by December 2022. All government car and van fleets will be zero emission by 2027.

The Net Zero Strategy reiterated the Government's commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030; from 2035, all new cars and vans must be zero emission at the tailpipe.

It is also moving forward with consultation on a 2040 deadline for all motorcycles, buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to be zero emissions.

Industry reaction

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive industry is putting zero-emission vehicles on Britain’s roads at pace beyond all forecasts, such is the choice and appeal of these new models. 

“A well-designed, flexible regulatory framework could help maintain or even increase this pace to ensure we deliver on our shared decarbonisation ambitions."

Hawes said the additional targeted funding for EVs is welcome and will help ensure affordability for certain models.

He added: "The announcement of additional funds for on-street residential charging must energise much-needed private sector investment but consumers will only have confidence in the future if there are commensurate and binding requirements on the infrastructure sector.

"Combining regulatory commitments with financial ones is the key to a successful transition to zero-emission road transport.”

Paul Willcox, Vauxhall managing director, welcomed the clarity from the Goverment on the zero emission vehicle mandate.

Willcox said: "Vauxhall believes a ZEV mandate can work in the UK provided there are complimentary targets on the other key parts of the electric vehicle ecosystem which are key to driving Britain to a more sustainable transport infrastructure.

"With our Ellesmere Port plant set to become the first electric vehicle only factory within the Stellantis group, we look forward to working with the Government on the detail of how a ZEV mandate can be implemented and help support a sustainable vehicle marketplace in the UK.”

Vauxhall has committed to only selling fully electric new cars and vans from 2028 – seven years ahead of the Government’s deadline of 2035.

Gill Nowell, head of electric vehicles at LV= General Insurance, said the Net Zero strategy is a move in the right direction "but ultimately the devil will be in the detail".

She said: "There needs to be an instrumental shift to increase the supply and availability of battery electric vehicles, so they are appealing for people across the UK, whatever their circumstances or income bracket.

“Getting more electric cars on the roads now will also boost the second hand market for years to come, which is essential in making the market more affordable for more people.

"In parallel, support for charging infrastructure is vital, but this must be underpinned by a strategic approach to help local authorities and communities deploy the right type of chargers where they are most needed.”

Gerry Keaney, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive, said the UK is in an EV arms race with the rest of the world and the Government believes a ZEV mandate will secure the millions of battery electric vehicle (BEV) imports it needs to meet its ambitious phase-out deadline.

He said: “We look forward to helping policymakers’ deliver a simple and effective scheme.

"However, it will be vital that any ZEV mandate includes a review mechanism to assess potential market failures.

"The mandate must also take account of the very different uptake trajectories seen between cars and vans.

“A ZEV mandate is all about maintaining EV supply, and it needs to be backed up by some equally ambitious policy measures aimed at delivering electric vehicle demand."

Key transport policies from the Government's Net Zero Strategy:

  • A zero emission vehicle mandate to improve consumer choice and ensure the Government maximise the economic benefit from this transition by giving a clear signal to investors. This will deliver on the UK's 2030 commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and 2035 commitment that all cars must be fully zero emissions capable.
  • Further funding of £620m for zero emission vehicle grants and EV Infrastructure, including further funding for local EV Infrastructure, with a focus on local on street residential charging.
  • Allocating a further £350m of the Government's up to £1 billion Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.
  • Building on the success of the £20m zero emission road freight trials, we will expand these to trial three zero emission HGV technologies at scale on UK roads to determine their operational benefits, as well as their infrastructure needs.
  • £2 billion investment which will help enable half of journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.
  • £3 billion to create integrated bus networks, more frequent services and bus lanes to speed journeys.
  • Transformation of local transport systems, with 4,000 new zero emission buses and the infrastructure to support them, and a net zero rail network by 2050, with the ambition to remove all diesel-only trains by 2040.
  • Building on the success of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, we will be extending this to a multi-year programme, delivering real-world demonstrations and technology trials of clean maritime vessels and infrastructure to decarbonise the maritime sector. This is part of our commitment to a UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions.
  • "Significant investment" in rail electrification and city rapid transit systems
  • Aim to become a world-leader in zero emission flight and kick-starting the commercialisation of the UK sustainable aviation fuel so people can fly, and connect without guilt. Our ambition is to enable delivery of 10% SAF by 2030 and will be supporting UK industry with £180m funding for the development of SAF plants.

MORE: Read the Government's net zero strategy 

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