SMMT responds to ZEV mandate confirmation

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has urged the government to provide greater industry support as it strives to meet the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate.

The mandate stipulates that vehicle manufacturers must sell an increasing number of zero emission vehicles each year.

Next year’s target is at least 22% of new cars and 10% of new vans to be zero-emission. By 2030 that rises to 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans are electric, before reaching 100% by 2035.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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.

“It is worth noting the mandate means the UK still retains the most ambitious transition timeline of any major market but without any private consumer incentives. Furthermore, the lack of a post-2030 regulatory framework creates investment uncertainty.

“Manufacturers offer a vast range of zero emission vehicles, but demand must also match supply. We need a buoyant market that delivers fleet renewal at scale, ensures a vibrant used EV market and gives consumers confidence. This means an attractive package of fiscal and other incentives, mandated infrastructure targets and a consistent message that encourages drivers to switch now.”

Meanwhile, Ian Plummer, commercial director, 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. The key now will be to support consumers in making the switch. That won’t be easy given the current barriers of high upfront cost and charging infrastructure – despite the significant savings to be made from running an EV.

“When it comes to the vans mandate, the softening of the annual targets is a pragmatic step that will provide much needed breathing room for certain manufacturers. It also gives the fleet and business sectors – the biggest van buyers – more choice while electric van technology catches up with business requirements, and electric vans become more affordable for small businesses.”