More than a fifth of new cars sold from 2024 must be electric, government confirms

  • 22% of all new cars sold in 2024 must be zero emissions, government announces
  • The minimum proportion rises each year to 80 per cent in 2030
  • Industry is calling for incentives to help buyers make the switch

Time 2:51 pm, September 28, 2023

The government is sticking to plans mandating the number of new cars sold that have to be zero emissions next year.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) of new cars sold by carmakers in the UK in 2024 must be pure electric the government has announced, confirming speculation reported by Car Dealer last week.

The minimum proportion rises each year to 80 per cent in 2030 and 70 per cent for vans under the Department for Transport’s zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate.

From next year, car manufacturers will be fined £15,000 per car they miss their target by.

The rubber-stamping comes after Rishi Sunak delayed the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 last week.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘The path to zero emission vehicles announced today makes sure the route to get there is proportionate, pragmatic and realistic for families.

‘Our mandate provides certainty for manufacturers, benefits drivers by providing more options, and helps grow the economy by creating skilled jobs.

‘We are also making it easier than ever to own an electric vehicle (EV), from reaching record levels of chargepoints to providing tax relief for EV owners.’

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) welcomed the move, but noted it comes with no incentives to help buyers make the switch to EVs.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘Delivering the mandate will challenge the industry, despite the flexibilities now included to support pragmatic, equitable delivery given this diverse sector.

‘It is worth noting the mandate means the UK still retains the most ambitious transition timeline of any major market but without any private consumer incentives. Furthermore, the lack of a post-2030 regulatory framework creates investment uncertainty.

‘Manufacturers offer a vast range of zero emission vehicles, but demand must also match supply. We need a buoyant market that delivers fleet renewal at scale, ensures a vibrant used EV market and gives consumers confidence. This means an attractive package of fiscal and other incentives, mandated infrastructure targets and a consistent message that encourages drivers to switch now.’

Auto Trader’s Ian Plummer said the government is sending ‘mixed messages’ and needs to support consumers.

‘Confirmation of the ZEV mandate at least gives the industry the clarity it needs, even though some manufacturers will struggle to hit these targets as they are behind the curve on EV sales. To close the gap and avoid fines, we could see prices come down to encourage consumer demand.

‘But combined with the delay to the ban on new diesel and petrol sales until 2035, the government is sending mixed messages in a crucial policy area.

‘The key now will be to support consumers in making the switch. That won’t be easy given the current barriers of high upfront cost and charging infrastructure – despite the significant savings to be made from running an EV.’

On the vans ZEV mandate, Plummer added: ‘The softening of the annual targets is a pragmatic step that will provide much needed breathing room for certain manufacturers.

‘It also gives the fleet and business sectors – the biggest van buyers – more choice while electric van technology catches up with business requirements, and electric vans become more affordable for small businesses.’

Journalist and founding CEO of Ginny Buckley said there’s a long road ahead to encourage drivers to buy EVs.

‘Car makers are now going to have to work even harder to win car buyers over to electric,’ she said.

‘In a recent survey of over 11,000 drivers, carried out in partnership with The AA, 87 per cent told us they felt electric cars are too expensive.

‘This needs to be addressed if car makers are going to hit these aggressive targets.

‘An additional 70 per cent of the drivers we surveyed told us they lacked confidence in our public charging infrastructure.

‘In order to give the UK car industry a fighting chance of meeting those tough targets, the government also needs to take decisive action and speed up the planning process and grid connections that are holding back this critical rollout and damaging consumer confidence.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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