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Labour will restore 2030 ZEV mandate target, says shadow roads minister

Shadow minister for roads Bill Esterson has told Recharge UK that Labour will reinstate the 2030 target date for a ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales in the UK.

In a meeting with the electric vehicles (EV) trade arm of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), Recharge UK, Esterson said the reintroduction of the 2030 deadline would give confidence to investors and help encourage consumers to make the switch to electric. 

This follows a decision made by the UK’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who announced in September 2023 that the target date for the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate will be pushed back from 2030 to 2035.

The legislation requires that 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in Great Britain be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, increasing to 100% by 2035.

This decision was met with severe criticism from EV industry members, which continued up until the mandate was passed into law on 3 January 2024.

Esterson said: “We are committed to 2030 because we’ve got to give certainty to investors. Our view is that as it is looking very encouraging for Labour to get into Government, we can give a very strong and clear degree of certainty that if Labour gets in it will be 2030 and you can invest on that basis if you’re confident we’re going to win.”

Transport policy manager for the REA, Matthew Adams, added: “We look forward to working with Bill going forward as we continue to build momentum across a number of the policy areas discussed, such as flexibility, accessibility, empowering those without driveways to purchase an EV and fleet electrification.”

Fleeting sales

During the meeting, Esterson was correct in identifying a possible hindrance on the road to electrification: the overwhelming number of EV fleet sales in comparison to private buyers.

In data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) from January 2024, the majority battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered throughout 2023 were bought by business and fleet buyers who benefit from compelling tax incentives.

The figures show that only one in 11 of the total number of registered battery BEVs was taken by private buyers, with the other 10 being fleet purchases.

Esterson said: “We have seen three months where new sales of electric vehicles have fallen. The only place where it has really kept going is fleet sales. All that is going to happen is manufacturers will reduce the number of vehicles that they are putting on the market so they still hit their quotas. That isn’t a good place to be. We need to increase the numbers of people buying, and we need private buyers to want to buy them.”

Second-hand market comes first

The shadow minister did, however, highlight the recent growth of a second-hand EV market in the UK and its usefulness in reaching a 2030 ICE vehicle ban.

He said: “The good news is that the second-hand market is starting to evolve, and electric vehicles are now at price parity with petrol and diesel for second-hand vehicles.”

SMMT continues to support Esterson’s statements, as research published in February 2024 showed that used BEV sales jumped by 90.9% year-on-year (YoY) in 2023, with their market share jumping from 0.9% in 2022 to 1.6% the following year.

Moreover, with the country having reached its millionth BEV on UK roads in January 2024, there is an increasing number of EVs available to be bought and sold second-hand.

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