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Half of new car should be electric by 2028 under ZEV mandate proposals


Minsters want more than half of all new cars sold in Britain to be fully electric by 2028, under new proposals for a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate outlined in a new technical report released by the Department for Transport.

A mandate would put a binding onus on manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of zero-emission vehicles each year in the run up to the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles at the end of the decade – and hybrids from 2035.

The Government wants to introduce the mandate from 2024, requiring more than one in five car registrations to be electric from that year. 

So far in 2022, 15.4 per cent of new models entering the road are battery powered.

Electric future: The mandate is focused on all car sales to be electric in the future

Electric future: The mandate is focused on all car sales to be electric in the future

The DfT’s technical consultation paper on the policy design for a ZEV mandate was published Thursday and gives an annual breakdown of what it wants uptake to look like.

Binding targets would be introduced from two years’ time, demanding for 22 per cent of all registrations to be EVs.

It would then want market share to rise to 52 per cent by 2028 and scaling up to 80 per cent by 2030 – the deadline for the ban on sales of traditional petrol and diesel models.

Only from 2035 will the mandate outlaw anything but 100 per cent battery-powered car sales.

This is because hybrid vehicles capable of zero-emission driving for short periods – though for what distance has yet to be decided – will be allowed to remain in showrooms for five years after petrol and diesels are banished. 

Ministers see the policy as the most effective way of shifting the UK’s car parc to EVs.

They believe it is the only way of providing the Treasury with an accurate picture of how rapidly it will lose revenues earned through motoring taxes on fossil fuel cars – both vehicle excise duty [car tax] and fuel duty – which contribute billions of pounds to its coffers every year.

This chart shows the uptake of EVs since 2015, with market share growing to 11.6% last year. SMMT forecasts suggest that by 2022 this will rise to 16% and by 2023 18%

This chart shows the uptake of EVs since 2015, with market share growing to 11.6% last year. SMMT forecasts suggest that by 2022 this will rise to 16% and by 2023 18%

A ZEV mandate will provide the Treasury with an accurate picture of when it will lose substantial revenues from taxes on fossil fuel cars - both vehicle excise duty [car tax] and fuel duty - whi

A ZEV mandate will provide the Treasury with an accurate picture of when it will lose substantial revenues from taxes on fossil fuel cars – both vehicle excise duty [car tax] and fuel duty – which contribute billions of pounds to its coffers every year

It is widely reported that under-fire Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is considering the introduction of a ‘road pricing’ scheme, which would charge drivers of electric cars for every mile they cover in order to fill the tax black hole left from levies on combustion models. 

MPs hope a mandate from 2024 will also force manufacturers to accelerate their availability of EVs at lower price points, with the premium cost of battery models still one of the biggest switching hurdles for consumers today. 

While the policy paper outlines the sales demands that could be placed on car makers, it doesn’t detail the punishments for failure to meet these requirements.

Previously, the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy hinted that the UK Government could impose financial penalties on manufacturers that fail to meet the year-by-year EV sales targets.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – the UK body representing car makers – describes the plans for a ZEV mandate as the ‘most ambitious of any major market in the world’ but said it could only be successful there is a robust charging infrastructure to support the EV growth proposed.

The trade body said regulation ‘must encourage consumers to purchase, not just compel manufacturers to produce’.

MPs hope a mandate will force manufacturers to accelerate the availability of EVs at lower price points. Currently, there isn't an electric car on sale in the UK costing less than £20k new

MPs hope a mandate will force manufacturers to accelerate the availability of EVs at lower price points. Currently, there isn’t an electric car on sale in the UK costing less than £20k new

This graphic shows the electric ambitions of each car brand. Those the dark green section have committed to being fully electric by 2030, while those in red have yet to rubberstamp their intentions to ditch petrol and diesel cars for good

This graphic shows the electric ambitions of each car brand. Those the dark green section have committed to being fully electric by 2030, while those in red have yet to rubberstamp their intentions to ditch petrol and diesel cars for good

Jaguar plans to be an all-electric luxury car brand from 2025, meaning a ZEV mandate from 2024 should be no issue. However, Land Rover won't be releasing its first fully-electric model until the same year the mandate is introduced 2024. Pictured: An electric Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar plans to be an all-electric luxury car brand from 2025, meaning a ZEV mandate from 2024 should be no issue. However, Land Rover won’t be releasing its first fully-electric model until the same year the mandate is introduced 2024. Pictured: An electric Jaguar I-Pace

Commenting on the proposals, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘Any mandate must be pragmatic, flexible and reflective of every manufacturer’s long-term commitment. 

‘It must also avoid being so complex and prescriptive that it becomes a straitjacket for the market and UK manufacturing investment. 

‘The danger is that consumers will lack the incentive to purchase these new vehicles – vehicles that will remain more expensive than traditional petrol and diesel cars for a number of years to come – in the quantities needed, keeping their older, more polluting vehicles for even longer thereby undermining the carbon savings this regulation seeks to deliver.’

Mr Hawes says mandates on car makers can only succeed if they are ‘matched with consumer incentives’ and ‘binding targets for infrastructure provision’. 

Last month the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that 59 per cent of new car sales would be electric by 2027, double the level it forecast in October.

In 2021, fully-electric cars accounted for just over one in ten (11.6 per cent) of all UK registrations. 

This was five percentage points higher than the previous 12 months, and in 2022 so far battery electric vehicle market share has risen to more than one in six new motors registered.

However, some motor companies are not so well placed to meet these targets.

Mainstream brands including Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Mini, Peugeot and Volvo have pledged to become electric-only car makers from 2030 – and the likes of Citroen, Jaguar and Vauxhall even earlier – meaning they should have enough model availability to match the Government’s demands.

However, other manufacturers have yet to rubberstamp a date for when they intend to remove petrol and diesel vehicles from their ranges.

Many of these brands major players in the industry, such as Toyota which currently is reliant on hybrid cars and has just one fully-electric model in its existing range. 

And while Jaguar says it will be an all-electric luxury car brand from 2025, sister marque Land Rover won’t be releasing its first fully-electric model until 2024 – the year the mandate is expected to be introduced and 22 per cent of sales need to be pure EVs. 

When does each car brand intend to go electric?

These are just some of the car makers that have promised to have fully-electric line-ups by the end of the decade. Read this brand-by-brand guide to each manufacturer's plans to transition away from the internal combustion engine

These are just some of the car makers that have promised to have fully-electric line-ups by the end of the decade. Read this brand-by-brand guide to each manufacturer’s plans to transition away from the internal combustion engine

With governments across Europe already setting a date for when they will no longer allow the sales of new petrol and diesel cars in their countries, car makers are facing little option but to move with the times and begin the electrification of their vehicle line-ups.  

Read our guide that takes a look at where each car manufacturer stands with their current EVs on sale to date, what their electrification plans are and when they intend to stop selling motors with petrol and diesel engines under the bonnet.

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