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Vertu boss Robert Forrester says ZEV Mandate has potential to put car making industry ‘underwater’

  • Robert Forrester attacks government approach to EV sales
  • Vertu boss says fines for not selling enough electric cars could put European industry ‘underwater’
  • He calls for a more ‘practical’ approach to incentivise buyers to go electric
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Time 11:05 am, February 8, 2024

Vertu Motors boss Robert Forrester has taken a swipe at the government for not having a ‘practical’ approach to EV sales.

The 54-year-old said the ZEV Mandate risks putting the European car making industry ‘underwater’ due to a lack of consumer demand for electric cars.

Speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Forrester said there is a ‘heavy reticence’ from buyers to go electric, which could place carmakers at risk of hefty fines.


The ZEV mandate requires a certain percentage of the sales of every car manufacturer to be electric, otherwise, firms will face financial penalties.

This year, the required percentage is 22 per cent, rising each year to 80 per cent in 2030.

Car makers unable to meet their targets will be fined, with the government proposing a £15,000 penalty for every non-electric car and £18,000 per non-electric van they miss their target by.


Earlier this week the House of Lords published a report which warns that the government needs to take ‘urgent action’ to hit electric car targets.

Explaining how the report reflects what’s going on in the showrooms, Forrester said: ‘I think our customers are quite disconnected from the House of Lords to be honest with you.

‘The facts are that the government has mandated that customers will have to buy, in the vast majority of cases over the next few years, electric vehicles.

‘There does seem to be a heavy reticence on the behalf of customers to actually buy them.

‘There are quite a lot of reasons for that – certainly charging infrastructure – but there is also a big cost discrepancy up front when buying an electric vehicle.

‘The government is going down a path of forcing manufacturers through fines to actually sell electric cars in the UK without any consumer incentives whatsoever.

‘We’re the only major market setting targets for electrification with no government consumer incentives whatsoever.

‘They took incentives for private customers off a number of years ago. There are definitely incentives for companies – and that is why fleet is so strong – but it is a very disconnected and unrealistic policy on behalf of the government.’

When asked about what should change going forward, Forrester called on new initiatives to bridge the cost gap between EVs and ICE vehicles.


He added: ‘There a number of policy initiatives which the industry are looking at.

‘I’ve got an electric vehicle and there is a vast difference in VAT between charging my car up at home outside and using public charging points.

‘The VAT is very different – five to 20%.

‘The incentive programmes, if they are going to actually pursue these targets, and they’re in grave danger of putting the European car manufactuing industry under water with this policy, along with the European Union, have to incentivise private customers to make the technological change and to bridge the gap in cost.

‘That could be via VAT or it could be outright subsidies, which they’ve certainly gone through in the past.

‘I think they have got to connect the policy with something that’s actually practical because what we’ve got at the moment in not practical.

‘Private demand for electric vehicles in January dropped 25%.’

Forrester was speaking on the same day that Vertu bought back 200,000 shares as part of a scheme last year.

You can read the full story here.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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