The UK government has launched a two-month consultation on its plans for a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate for the van and car sectors, which will compel manufacturers to sell a rising proportion of electric vehicles before the 2030 ban on conventional petrol and diesel.
Starting next year, the ZEV Mandate will require vehicle makers to ensure at least 22% of their new car sales and 10% of new vans are zero emissions in 2024. This will then rise incrementally each year to 80% for cars and 70% for vans in 2030, and 100% for both by 2035. Vehicle makers that fail to achieve these sales targets will be subject to fines, with a system of proposed flexibilities and credits.
What is still unclear, however, is the technologies permitted for sale between 2030 and 2035, which must have some as yet undefined ‘significant zero emission capability’.
The consultation also states that only true “zero carbon” technologies will be permitted post 2035, which could rule out synthetic e-fuels as an alternative to electrification or hydrogen.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Automotive is on track to deliver zero emission motoring, so we welcome this long-awaited consultation on a watershed regulation for the UK new car and van market.
“We want regulation that gives consumers choice and affordability, and enables manufacturers to transition sustainably and competitively.
“While the proposals rightly reflect the sector’s diversity, late publication and lack of regulatory certainty make product planning near impossible, and the continued lack of clarity as to what technologies will be permitted beyond 2030 undermines attempts to secure investment.”
Government is now seeking views on the final proposed regulatory framework and is consulting on a number of specific points.
These include the ZEV uptake trajectories; how allowances and credits might be allocated and used; flexibilities including banking, borrowing and transfers between schemes; derogations and exemptions; how to regulate the non-ZEV part of the fleet; and how the ZEV Mandate and non-ZEV CO2 regulation interact.
Government also confirmed it will invest a further £381 million via the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, along with £15m for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), to help install tens of thousands of new chargers across the UK – backed by private sector investment.
In February, ministers announced the expansion of the LEVI pilot, with 16 more councils receiving funding to deliver new charging infrastructure for residents, such as faster on-street charge points and larger petrol station-style charging hubs.
SMMT believes measures to improve the customer charging experience are a step in the right direction, but the fact that contactless credit or debit card payments will not be available on the vast majority of public chargers is a major failing that will significantly disadvantage EV drivers.
Hawes added: “It is also disappointing that, unlike in other countries, there is no commensurate regulation to drive investment into the public network given that paucity of chargepoints remains the biggest barrier to buying an electric vehicle.
“Ultimately, for this mandate to be successful, infrastructure providers must now turn promises into investment and catch up with the commitments of vehicle manufacturers.”
Ford said the ZEV Mandate gives a clear direction and confidence for infrastructure investors to invest in locations across the UK’s road network.
The major light commercial vehicle manufacturer added that with new, higher targets for van customers, it is crucial that government’s Plug-in Van Grant is retained in the early years to support businesses making the switch.
Tim Slatter, Ford Britain Chair, said: “Ford is on an accelerated path to an all-electric vehicle portfolio and carbon neutrality by 2035, and fully supports the government’s ambition for a zero emission future.
“The ZEV Mandate is a crucial piece of the electrification puzzle that provides a vital indicator of charging infrastructure needs in the coming years. We know from our customers that the biggest barrier to uptake of electric vehicles remains the availability and ease of charging.”
Meanwhile, Stellantis, which is committed to achieving 100% electric new car and van sales in the UK and Europe by 2030, across all of its brands including Vauxhall, Peugeot, Fiat and Citroen, said it fully supports UK government’s ambitions.
Furthermore, as outlined in its Dare Forward 2030 plan, the firm plans to be carbon net zero by 2038.
However, Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President and Group Managing Director, Stellantis UK, said: “We now urgently need to have certainty and regulatory clarity on the pathway that the government will set, strong support for the industry in making the necessary investments in the manufacture of electric vehicles in the UK and action to develop our battery manufacturing capacity.
“On charging, we welcome the clarity brought however, it is disappointing that there is not a clearer requirement to provide a minimum charging capacity per low-emission vehicle or to ensure a minimum density of fast chargers on our major road transport routes in order to further increase consumer confidence.”
The UK new van market is already moving at pace towards electrification – the result of massive investment by manufacturers and increased consumer demand.
However, if the UK is to lead the global race to zero emission mobility, it must go further and faster in unlocking infrastructure investment, incentivising EV ownership and helping ensure more of these vehicles are developed and built in Britain.
The consultation, available here, closes on May 24.