Limits on sales of polluting cars set to go ahead

Transport Secretary Mark Harper is expected to announce shortly that by 2030 at least 80% of new cars sold by manufacturers must be zero emission.

Neil Lancefield
Thursday 21 September 2023 13:54 BST
Transport Secretary Mark Harper (Lucy North/PA)
Transport Secretary Mark Harper (Lucy North/PA)

Proposed limits on the proportion of polluting cars which manufacturers can sell in the UK are expected to go ahead despite the delay in banning new petrol and diesel models.

The PA news agency understands motoring groups have been told by Transport Secretary Mark Harper that the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate will be introduced.

The Cabinet minister is expected to announce shortly that by 2030 at least 80% of new cars sold by manufacturers must be zero emission, such as battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The Government can’t dodge its own responsibilities

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be delayed from 2030 to 2035.

Hybrids – which combine an electric motor with a petrol and diesel tank – will still be prohibited from 2035.

Final details of the ZEV mandate have not been confirmed, despite its planned start date of January 1 next year.

The Government has not responded to its public consultation on the rules, which closed in May.

It included a proposed minimum ZEV target trajectory for new cars beginning at 22% in 2024, increasing to 80% in 2030 and reaching 100% in 2035.

The document suggested that manufacturers who do not meet these thresholds – and fail to use allowances bought from other car makers – will be required to pay the Government £15,000 per polluting car sold above the limits.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “With the zero emission vehicle mandate apparently going ahead as planned from 2024, the pressure will still be squarely on auto manufacturers to ramp up the supply of affordable battery electric vehicles and persuade car-buyers of their benefits.

“Whilst the formal date for the end of new petrol and diesel sales will now be 2035, most look set to disappear from showrooms by 2030.

“The Government can’t dodge its own responsibilities for addressing car-buyers’ concerns about going electric.

“It must ensure the delivery of a comprehensive, user-friendly and reliable public charging network backed up by consumer protection regulations with real teeth.”

Both industry and consumer confidence has been dented by recent announcements, and so clarity and Government co-operation will be vital as the next steps play out

Ian Plummer, Auto Trader

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “While the UK’s end of sale date for new conventional petrol and diesel vehicles has now been pushed back, regulation compelling the sale of EVs is still expected to be published imminently and to take effect in just over 100 days.

“This remains the single most important mechanism to deliver the UK’s net zero commitment.

“However, while manufacturers have invested billions to bring a growing choice of models to market, now more than ever consumers must be encouraged to make the switch.

“This will require a package of incentives for private buyers that complements those on offer to businesses, as well as measures to accelerate the roll out of charge points.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: “The ZEV mandate will be a stretch for the majority of manufacturers to achieve in its current form, as many are significantly behind where the Government is telling them they need to be in terms of EV sales.

“Therefore, to close the gap and meet electric vehicle sales targets, car manufacturers will be forced to look at ways to stimulate consumer demand and it’s likely price will need to play a big part in this.

“Electric vehicles carry a hefty price premium, so if prices come down, they’ll suddenly become a far more attractive proposition for a greater pool of car buyers.

“Both industry and consumer confidence has been dented by recent announcements, and so clarity and Government co-operation will be vital as the next steps play out.”

The Department for Transport said an announcement on the ZEV mandate will be made in due course.

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