The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate requiring UK car and van manufacturers to produce an escalating minimum quota of electric vehicles over the coming years, will come into force in the New Year, after securing Parliamentary support.

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The landmark legislation, voted in by Parliament on Monday evening (4 December), will kick off on 1 January 2024 and will require car and van manufacturers to ensure 22% of cars sold in the UK next year generate no tailpipe emissions, rising to 33% in 2026, and 52% in 2028.

In addition, by 2030 80% of new cars and vans sold in the UK will need to produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, rising to 100% by 2035.

Manufacturers failing to meet these targets will be subject to fines of £15,000 for every car they fall short of in their minimum quota, and £18,000 for each van.

However van and car manufacturers that exceed their targets can trade their allowances to those that have fallen short oftheir  targets, giving manufacturers that are slow off the mark some leeway.

The DfT said the mandate will give the second-hand EV market more time to grow, making it easier for businesses and families to make the switch, while also allowing additional time for the expansion of the UK’s EV charging infrastructure.

In the UK, 43% more charging points were built this year compared to 2022, according to DfT figures. The government has a target of 300,000 charge points by 2030.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper welcomed the vote. He said: “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, from reaching record levels of charge points to providing tax relief for EV owners.”

Parliamentary approval for the ZEV Mandate comes in the same week the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT), released its latest figures for electric van registrations, which have fallen for the second consecutive month. 

November’s registration figures experienced a decrease in the number of battery electric commercials registered, down -17.4% to 1,631 units. Whilst the volume for EV vans has increased to 17,289 units this year (15% change year to date), it still only represents 5.5% of the market of the total market share.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive called for more government action to support the market uptake. He said: ”It is crucial that operator demand also translates to zero emission van uptake, driving down CO2 emissions to meet Britain’s ambitious environmental targets.

”These are severely threatened by Rules of Origin requirements due in less than four weeks’ time, so it is essential that a pragmatic solution is found, and fast.”

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) echoed Hawes concerns. She said: “It has been encouraging to see further growth in the light commercial registration market but it is disappointing to see that electric vans have failed to increase as we approach the implementation of the ZEV mandate in January.

She added: “In terms of the heavier sections of LCVs, there appears to be less cause for concern as this is very much a fleet market which year to date has seen an increase of 9.4%.

“There is often not much discussion on the 3.5 – 6.0t CV market but it is positive to see a modest growth in registrations. These vehicles are usually classed as small HGVs and are subject to stringent regulations including requiring tachographs and ATF annual testing.

“Nevertheless, as we go into new year, there needs to be more incentives from the government to increase demand for EV commercials and encourage van operators to buy them.

”We have seen a similar decrease in BEV car registrations this month and it is clear that more government support is necessary in the form of greater subsidies and improving EV public LCV charging facilities.”