Manufacturers could be forced to sell a rising share of electric cars each year to speed-up the shift to zero-emission vehicles, according to reports.
The Times said ministers are considering a California-style ‘zero emission vehicle mandate’, which would be similar to the one introduced in the US state in the 1990s and demand a minimum volume of plug-in cars are sold by brands.
MPs believe the mandate would be the most effective way of shifting the UK’s car make-up to electric vehicles, to bridge the proposed ban on sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars in 2035.
Mandate for electric cars: The government is considering plans to force vehicle manufacturers to sell a rising share of plug-in models each year to speed-up the shift to zero-emission vehicles, according to reports
Under the mandate, car makers would be required to sell an increasing volume of zero emission vehicles as a share of their overall sales.
If they fail to meet their EV target, they would be able to purchase credits from other manufacturers.
The government said it would consider a mandate in a response to a Committee on Climate Change report published in the summer.
It said it recognised a need to ‘go further than the existing regulatory regime to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport’, and that it was are looking into a mandate as part of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
Already in the first nine months of 2020, demand for battery electric cars is at a record high.
Over 66,600 pure electric vehicles have been bought by the end of September – a year-on-year increase of 184 per cent increase, which has seen registrations almost double the full-year sales of pure EVs for the entirety of 2019 with three months to spare.
These electric-only cars now account for 5.4 per cent of all vehicle registrations in the UK, with that market share set to continue an increase as demand for diesel cars in particular shrinks and more people convert to zero-emission model while grants are available.
If a mandate was put in place it would allow the government to retract these subsidies and tax incentives that are currently exclusively available to buyers of electric cars, such as the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant and VED road tax exemption.
Sales of battery electric vehicles are booming at the moment, as motorists are taking advantage of incentives, such as the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant, when purchasing EVs
And the Government has made no secret that it wants to phase out the availability of electric-car deals, which it outlined in its Road to Zero document in summer 2018.
It said: ‘As the market becomes better established and more competitive, the need for direct government financial support will decrease.
‘We therefore expect to deliver a managed exit from the grant in due course and to continue to support the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles through other measures.’
The Times reported that ministers also believe a mandate would help to attract electric car manufacturers to setup production lines in Britain to boost the economy.
It comes as government is expected to announce plans to fast-track the deadline for the banned sale of petrol and diesel cars, which could be brought forward to as early as 2030.
Ministers are eager to pull the plug on grants, subsidies and incentives currently offered to owners of electric cars, stating that ‘the need for direct government financial support will decrease’
MPs have urged the Prime Minister to accelerate the ban to a decade’s time in order to help the Government achieve its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
The plans, which would dramatically accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles, are expected to be announced later this year alongside a series of new clean energy policies.
Downing Street had intended to unveil the blueprints in September, but the announcement will now be pushed back as ministers focus on soaring numbers of coronavirus cases, energy and transport insiders told the Guardian last month.
The ban, backed by the Committee on Climate Change, is likely to be set out by the Government in autumn alongside plans for Britain to become a carbon-neutral economy by the middle of the century.
Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, gave her full support to a mandate. She said: ‘Moving the ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans forward to 2030 is an absolute must if the government is to meet its legally binding climate commitments. Any later and it becomes almost impossible.
‘But a ban alone won’t see this change take place without the policies that force it over the line. That’s why a zero emissions vehicle mandate for car manufacturers would be an incredibly smart move to bring new jobs to UK.
In order to dangle the carrot for people buying a new car, the government must use the stick with manufacturers to ensure costs come down and sales go up.’
A new study by vehicle breakdown recovery provider Green Flag said the average UK driver now expects to purchase an electric car within the next four years.
The poll of 1,500 drivers found that more than half (54 per cent) are today in favour of electric cars, with fuel savings and eco-friendliness the biggest perks, followed by lower servicing an maintenance costs and the convenience of being able to charge a vehicle at home.
Mark Newberry, commercial director at Green Flag, said: ‘Our research has found that the main concern for drivers converting to electric is running out of charge mid-journey. Try to think back to the last time that you broke down because you ran out of petrol?
‘We want to reassure drivers that it only takes a few small adjustments to enjoy an electric vehicle – if you look after your car, prepare for your journey and drive carefully you should see minimal changes to your driving routines.’