UK sets new target for electric car sales to boost green transition

The UK government has introduced a new mandate for electric car sales, requiring at least 22% of new cars sold by manufacturers in the UK this year to be zero-emission. This is part of the government’s plan to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The electric car mandate, which came into force on Wednesday, is a regulation that sets a minimum requirement for the share of electric vehicles (EVs) in the total sales of each car manufacturer in the UK. The mandate applies to both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles, but the latter have a lower weighting factor. The mandate also includes a credit trading system, which allows manufacturers to buy and sell credits based on their performance.

The mandate aims to create a level playing field for EVs and encourage car manufacturers to invest more in EV technology and innovation. The government hopes that this will increase the supply and demand of EVs in the UK market and support the green transition of the transport sector.

UK sets new target for electric car sales to boost green transition
UK sets new target for electric car sales to boost green transition

Why is the electric car mandate important?

The transport sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, accounting for 28% of the total emissions in 2019. Road transport alone contributed 91% of the transport emissions, with cars being the biggest culprit. Reducing the emissions from road transport is therefore crucial for the UK to meet its climate goals and commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The electric car mandate is one of the measures that the government has taken to accelerate the shift to low-carbon mobility. The government has also announced a £1.3 billion investment in EV charging infrastructure, a £582 million grant scheme for EV buyers, and a £500 million fund for battery development. These initiatives are expected to create thousands of green jobs and boost the UK’s competitiveness in the global EV market.

How will the electric car mandate affect consumers and businesses?

The electric car mandate will have various impacts on consumers and businesses, depending on their preferences and readiness for EV adoption. Some of the potential benefits and challenges are:

  • Benefits:
    • Consumers will have more choices and options for EV models, as car manufacturers will offer a wider range of EVs to meet the mandate requirements.
    • Consumers will also benefit from lower running costs and maintenance costs of EVs, as well as lower carbon emissions and air pollution.
    • Businesses will have more opportunities and incentives to invest in EV technology and innovation, as well as EV charging infrastructure and services. This will create new markets and revenue streams for businesses in the EV sector.
  • Challenges:
    • Consumers will face higher upfront costs of EVs, as EVs are still more expensive than conventional cars. The government’s grant scheme for EV buyers will help to reduce the price gap, but it may not be enough to make EVs affordable for everyone.
    • Consumers will also need to overcome the barriers of range anxiety and charging availability, as EVs have limited driving range and require access to charging stations. The government’s investment in EV charging infrastructure will help to improve the charging network, but it may take time to reach all areas and locations.
    • Businesses will need to adapt to the changing market conditions and consumer preferences, as well as the regulatory requirements and standards for EVs. Businesses will also need to cope with the competition and disruption from new entrants and innovators in the EV sector.

What are the reactions and responses to the electric car mandate?

The electric car mandate has received mixed reactions and responses from different stakeholders and groups. Some of the positive and negative feedbacks are:

  • Positive:
    • The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade association for the UK automotive industry, welcomed the electric car mandate as a “positive step” that will help to “drive the market” and “deliver environmental benefits”.
    • The Transport & Environment (T&E), a European non-governmental organisation that campaigns for sustainable transport, praised the electric car mandate as a “game-changer” that will make the UK “a global leader in clean cars”.
    • The Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England, a membership organisation for EV drivers and enthusiasts, supported the electric car mandate as a “clear signal” that will “boost consumer confidence” and “encourage more people to make the switch”.
  • Negative:
    • The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade association for the UK insurance industry, warned that the electric car mandate could increase the insurance premiums for EVs, as EVs are more expensive and complex to repair than conventional cars.
    • The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), the trade association for the UK petrol station operators, criticised the electric car mandate as a “threat” that will “undermine” the viability and profitability of their businesses.
    • The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), a lobby group for the interests of motorists, opposed the electric car mandate as a “coercion” that will “force” consumers to buy EVs that they do not want or need.

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