More than half of new cars sold in the UK will have to be electric within five years government confirms

Rishi Sunak is sticking to plans requiring more than half of all new cars in the UK to be electric within five years despite delaying an outright ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Motorists are expected to be guided towards making their next purchase electric under the zero-emission vehicle mandate (ZEVM) scheme, which is expected to remain unchanged despite Mr Sunak’s net-zero U-turn last week.

It will require car makers to ensure 22 per cent of new cars sold in the UK next year are electric or hydrogen-fuelled – known as ‘zero-emission’ vehicles (ZEVs) – before jumping to 52 per cent by 2028.

However experts predict that fossil-fuelled cars will ‘disappear from showrooms’ by 2030 because manufacturers are stepping up electric car production.

The ZEVM programme, announced during Boris Johnson’s tenure as PM, will fine car makers an expected £15,000 per car and £18,000 per van sold outside of the target that isn’t electric.

Car makers including BMW, Toyota and Ford are reported to have met with the government on Monday to be told the ZEVM targets remain the same, reports The Times. A formal decision is expected this week.

Experts predict that manufacturers will push new buyers heavily towards electric vehicles when they walk into showrooms – but have called on the government to better support the growth of the electric vehicle market despite delaying the ban on pure diesel and petrol cars.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: ‘With the zero emission vehicle mandate apparently going ahead as planned from 2024, the pressure will still be squarely on auto manufacturers to ramp up the supply of affordable battery electric vehicles and persuade car-buyers of their benefits.

‘Whilst the formal date for the end of new petrol and diesel sales will now be 2035, most look set to disappear from showrooms by 2030.

The commitment to the ZEVM scheme came after Rishi Sunak delayed the ban on sales of pure petrol and diesel vehicles – i.e. cars and vans that have no hybrid assistance – to 2035.

But manufacturers have committed to ramping up their electric vehicle production for 2030 – the original date of the ban before the PM’s announcement last week.

BMW recently announced that it will invest £600million in its Mini plant in Oxford so that the next generation of the electric hatchback will be produced in the UK, securing 4,000 jobs.

And Nissan, which has restated its commitment to only making electric vehicles from 2030, five years ahead of the 100 per cent UK sales target.

Ford – which killed off the Fiesta hatchback earlier this year as it stepped up ZEV production – said the delay to the end of petrol and diesel sales was ‘undermining’ the car industry.

However, some manufacturers including Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover, both of which continue to favour conventionally fuelled vehicles in their ranges at present, have welcomed the delay.

But car makers will have a challenge on their hands to boost sales to 22 per cent by next year.

Nissan, which has a plant in Sunderland has committed to making its entire range of vehicles electric by 2030, despite the delay on the ban

Experts predict that showrooms will likely try to incentivise people into choosing electric vehicles over petrol or diesel ones to avoid being fined for not meeting NEVM targets

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that 16.3 per cent of new car sales in 2023 so far have been electric – but petrol cars, including mild hybrids, continue outselling battery-powered cars several times over.

Polling commissioned by the trade body found that more than two thirds of drivers want to make the switch to an electric car.

Around 68 per cent of motorists want financial incentives to do so, and a similar number say charging infrastructure needs to be improved, to make charging a battery-powered car as easy as filling up at the pump.

Consumer group Which? estimates that electric cars charged at home will cost less per mile to run than a petrol or diesel car – between 3.9 pence and 14.1p per mile for a medium-sized hatchback, depending on the time of day, compared to 14.6p per mile and 19.6p per mile for the diesel and petrol equivalents.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said that heavy investment in car chargers is needed to give Brits the confidence to switch.

Hawes said: ‘While the UK’s end of sale date for new conventional petrol and diesel vehicles has now been pushed back, regulation compelling the sale of EVs is still expected to be published imminently and to take effect in less than 100 days.

‘This remains the single most important mechanism to deliver the UK’s Net Zero commitment. However, while manufacturers have invested billions to bring a growing choice of models to market, now more than ever consumers must be encouraged to make the switch.

‘This will require a package of incentives for private buyers that complements those on offer to businesses, as well as measures to accelerate the rollout of charge points.’

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