At the end of April, the UK government launched a two-month consultation on its plans for a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. In short, manufacturers will be obliged to sell an increasing proportion of electric vehicles before the 2030 ban on conventional petrol and diesel, due to start next year.

While zero-emission vehicle sales in the UK have continued to increase, reaching 15% of new car sales in the 12 months up through June 2022, according to SMMT data, transport emissions remain a concern.

According to the government’s consultation paper, the transport sector produces the most significant share of UK domestic greenhouse gases (GHGs). Cars and vans alone accounted for 18% of the UK’s total domestic GHG emissions in 2021. The government sees zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) as the only way to decarbonise road transport in line with the UK’s net zero legislation.

The proposed minimum ZEV target trajectory for new cars sold begins at 22% in 2024, increasing to 80% in 2030 and reaching 100% in 2035. The proposed minimum ZEV target trajectory for new vans sold begins at 10% in 2024 and reaches 70% in 2030, on the way to 100% in 2035. It will sit alongside the existing average fleet emission targets manufacturers must hit.

To qualify as a ZEV, it is proposed that a vehicle must emit no CO2 or any other targeted greenhouse gases at the exhaust, have a minimum range of 120 miles according to the WLTP test standard, and meet specific minimum warranty requirements to ensure a consistent and predictable consumer experience.

Vehicle makers that fail to achieve these sales targets will be subject to fines, with a system of proposed flexibilities and credits.

The consultation also states that only true “zero carbon” technologies will be permitted post-2035, which could rule out synthetic e-fuels as an alternative to electrification or hydrogen.

While there are exceptions for smaller manufacturers and the potential for OEMs to ‘trade’ allowances as they gear up the availability of their ZEV parc, the trajectory is very evident. The government is proposing a payment of £15,000 per ‘excess activity’ for cars and £18,000 for vans. If they miss the target by 2000 vehicles, the fine would be £30 million. The zero-emission BEV market, already on an upward trajectory, is set to get a significant extra push from next year.

Chris Rowthorn, Director of Motor Sales Operations

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