More than a fifth of new cars sold from 2024 must be zero emission

More than a fifth (22%) of new cars sold by manufacturers in the UK next year must be zero emission, under new rules announced by the Government.

The minimum proportion rises each year to 80% in 2030 under the Department for Transport’s zero emission vehicle mandate.

This comes after Rishi Sunak delayed the ban on the sale of new conventionally fuelled vehicles from 2030 to 2035.

The vast majority of zero emission vehicles are pure electrics.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The path to zero emission vehicles announced today makes sure the route to get there is proportionate, pragmatic and realistic for families.

“Our mandate provides certainty for manufacturers, benefits drivers by providing more options, and helps grow the economy by creating skilled jobs.

“We are also making it easier than ever to own an electric vehicle (EV), from reaching record levels of chargepoints to providing tax relief for EV owners.”

It was previously proposed that manufacturers which fail to meet the thresholds and do not make use of flexibilities – such as carrying over allowances from previous years – will be required to pay the Government £15,000 per polluting car sold above the limits.

It is understood the Department for Transport will maintain such payments as an option but do not expect they will be needed due to the range of the flexibilities.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “With less than 100 days to go, manufacturers finally have clarity on what they are required to sell next year and up to 2030.

“The industry is investing billions in decarbonisation and recognises the importance of this mechanism as the single most important measure to deliver net zero.

“Delivering the mandate will challenge the industry, despite the flexibilities now included to support pragmatic, equitable delivery given this diverse sector.”

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

The DfT said manufacturers who fail to meet thresholds will be able to make use of “flexibilities” in the scheme, particularly during the first three years.

These include carrying over allowances from previous years, catching up in subsequent years and over-complying with related requirements.

AA chief executive Jakob Pfaudler said: “Our customers want to see both Government action and realism in the move to electric vehicles as part of an ambitious drive to net zero.

“This means having certainty and a combination of the right information, infrastructure and incentives available to them.”

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “It’s one thing to tell the auto companies the proportion of car sales that must be zero-emission, it’s quite another persuading drivers that they should buy them.

“The task for the auto sector now becomes one of convincing motorists in rapidly increasing numbers to make the switch to electric motoring, and to do so on the basis of ramping up the supply of affordable battery electric options.

“The Government can’t dodge its own responsibilities for addressing motorists’ concerns about going electric, rooted in the need for a comprehensive, user-friendly and reliable public charging network, backed up by consumer protection regulations with real teeth.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: “Confirmation of the ZEV mandate at least gives the industry the clarity it needs, even though some manufacturers will struggle to hit these targets as they are behind the curve on EV sales.

“To close the gap and avoid fines, we could see prices come down to encourage consumer demand.

“But combined with the delay to the ban on new diesel and petrol sales until 2035, the Government is sending mixed messages in a crucial policy area.”