ZEV mandate comes into force prompting calls for EV incentives and better infrastructure

  • At least 22% of new cars sold by carmakers have to be zero-emission from today
  • The figure falls to 10% for van manufacturers
  • SMMT calls for incentives and mandated infrastructure targets

Time 8:50 am, January 3, 2024

New rules mandating the minimum number of brand new pure electric cars and vans that have to be sold in the UK have come into force.

From today, (Jan 3) at least 22% of new cars sold by carmakers have to be zero-emission, while for new vans the figure is 10%.

The level will be ramped up progressively until 2030 when 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in the UK have to be pure electric.

Government plans originally set out for 100% of new car sales to be pure electric by 2030, but this was moved to 2035 in September last year.

Manufacturers which fail to abide by the rules or make use of flexibilities – such as carrying over allowances from previous years – will be required to pay the government £15,000 per polluting vehicle sold above the limits.

The mandate is a devolved policy and was developed with the Scottish government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure.

The Westminster government’s technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne, who will visit an EV charging hub installed by BP Pulse in central London on Wednesday (Jan 3), said: ‘Alongside us having spent more than £2bn in the transition to electric vehicles, our zero-emission vehicle mandate will further boost the economy and support manufacturers to safeguard skilled British jobs in the automotive industry.

‘We are providing investment certainty for the charging sector to expand our charging network, which has already grown by 44% since this time last year.

‘This will support the constantly growing number of EVs in the UK, which currently account for over 16% of the new UK car market.’

But Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, Mike Hawes, believes incentives are needed to make sure demand matches supply.

‘The industry is investing billions in decarbonisation and recognises the importance of the zero-emission vehicles mandate in delivering net zero,’ he said.

‘The regulation means the UK retains the most ambitious timeline of any major market yet without private consumer incentives.

‘While manufacturers offer a vast range of zero-emission vehicles, demand must match supply.

‘Delivering a buoyant EV market means giving all consumers the confidence to invest, which requires an attractive package of fiscal incentives, mandated infrastructure targets and a consistent message that encourages drivers to switch now.’

The implementation of the ZEV mandate comes as industry experts believe the new car market is switching from a ‘pull’ to a ‘push’ model.

Better supply and the need to sell the strict 22% quota of brand new EVs means new cars are beginning to flood the market.

Vauxhall boss James Taylor told Car Dealer last month that 2024 will be an interesting year in terms of supply and new car pricing, and that car dealers are ‘critical’ in the switch to electric.

He explained the British brand has a ‘good chance’ of hitting the 22% mandate.

Taylor said: ‘What’s going to be fascinating is will everyone be in the same position? Will ICE pricing get more expensive next year and will supply of ICEs be reduced?

‘It’s going to be very interesting in January 2024 and this change from “pull” to “push”. There might be a bit of push now but without that electric element [mix and supply] in January it will be really difficult to push.’

News emerged this week that a government target for EV chargers near motorways has been missed.

The Department for Transport (DfT) set an ambition for there to be at least six rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

But just 46 out of 119 sites (39%) met the target, according to RAC analysis of data from charger locator service Zapmap.

The DfT said the number of public chargepoints is ‘surging across the country’.

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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