As part of its “green day” package of environmental announcements the UK Government has published its plans for a zero emission vehicle mandate and CO2 emissions regulations which will drive the auto makers to shift to zero emission vehicles.  


In its consultation paper outlining plans for a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate for cars and vans, the UK Government has underlined its commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 and force all new cars and vans to be fully zero emission at the exhaust by 2035. The consultation is open now until 24 May 2023. While the latest regulation only covers cars and vans (vehicles up to 3.5t gross vehicle weight), it can be seen as a clear indicator that zero means zero when it comes to implementation and the Government is prepared to commit this to legislation. We’d also venture it gives some clues in the way the UK Government intends to implement the transition to the end of sale dates for trucks in 2035 (up to 26t) and 2040 (all trucks) by mandating the supply, rather than the demand of new vehicles.

The onus is on the manufacturer to shift a minimum percentage of zero emission sales each year starting in 2024, driving the market. Hefty fines will be imposed for non-compliance. Any buyers who were planning to sit on their hands and order non-zero emission vehicles right up until the deadline will need to rethink their strategy. By 2028 the Government is mandating a target for 58% of van sales in the UK to be zero emission, 70% by 2030, even if buyers want to continue with diesel vans, the market supply will be very limited.

The initial tranche of legislation is intended to take effect from 2024 and cover the period through to 2030. Each year, manufacturers will receive allowances to sell non-ZEV vehicles up to a given percentage of their fleet of new cars and vans, with the intention that ZEVs account for the remainder of sales (the ZEV target). 

To qualify as a ZEV it is proposed that: a) a vehicle must emit no greenhouse gases from the exhaust. Specifically, the vehicle must have 0 g/km CO2 according to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and also not have any emissions of any other targeted gases under the Climate Change Act of 2008 - this includes NOx so would appear to legislate against hydrogen internal combustion engines; b) the vehicle must have an operational range of at least 120 miles according to the WLTP test cycle; and c) manufacturers must provide a warranty for the vehicle covering a minimum of 8 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) for traction batteries, hydrogen fuel cell stacks, and hydrogen tanks. Battery electric vehicle suppliers must provide replacement of the traction battery if it falls below 70% capacity during the covered period. A minimum of 3 years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first) for the remainder of the vehicle.