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UK government must launch zero emissions vehicle mandate to meet 2035 target

Time 10 months ago

Think tank Policy Exchange has recommended the UK government introduces a zero emissions vehicle mandate, similar to California’s launched in the 1990s, if it wants to meet its deadline of ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Its latest report states that ‘without a comprehensive policy framework, the UK will not be able to end the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans by 2035′.

In 2019, alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) made up only 3.5 per cent of new cars sold in the UK. Half were plug-in hybrids and half were fully-electric, but to reach the 2035 target this must increase six per cent every year until then.

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In California, the state has introduced a zero-emissions mandate (ZEV mandate) where manufacturers must sell an increasing number of ZEV as a share of their overall sales. Otherwise, they must purchase credits from other manufacturers.

The report said the UK’s plug-in car grant has already cost the government more than £800m and is expected to cost another £400m, on top of costs to support public and private EV charging infrastructure.

According to Policy Exchange: ‘In the post-Covid-19 economy, the government will want to support the recovery of domestic car manufacturing whilst accelerating the UK’s transition to net zero.

‘However, the demands on public finances will be numerous, so policy for zero emissions vehicles should be fiscally neutral as possible.’

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It suggests that the UK should introduce a ZEV mandate, which can be revenue neutral for the government, and this freed-up funding can be used to improve charging infrastructure.

It also says the government should also gradually phase out conflicting policies such as the plug-in car grant and favourable tax treatment for ZEVs.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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