The Government says half of all new UK cars should be electric by 2028

More than half of all new cars sold in the UK must be fully electric by 2028, according to detailed government proposals unveiled on Thursday to pave the way for phasing out sales of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles by the end of the decade.

Ministers want to introduce a Chinese-style sales mandate from 2024 that would force automakers to increase the share of electric cars as a percentage of their sales every year until 2035, when all models must be zero-emissions.

Under plans unveiled two years ago, the government would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, but would allow some new hybrid models to be sold by 2035.

Specific annual targets, announced online Thursday, include a manufacturer-mandated all-electric share of 22 percent at the start of the program in 2024, increasing each year to 52 percent in 2028 and 80 percent by 2030.

The industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the new rules “must encourage consumers to buy, not just force manufacturers to produce”. It reiterated its call for manufacturers to be exempted from the mandatory targets if not enough electrical chargers were installed in the UK.

Last month, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that 59 percent of new car sales would be electric by 2027, double the forecast in October.

Battery electric cars accounted for 12 percent of new vehicle sales last year, but some manufacturers, like Toyota, are currently turning to hybrid systems to cut emissions and only started selling all-electric vehicles this year. Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest carmaker, only sells one electric model and won’t launch its next electric car until 2024.

But the automakers criticized the detailed policy proposal for not clarifying the future of hybrid cars, which will be built at two of the UK’s largest car plants, Nissan and Toyota.

Ministers had previously said that only new cars with “significant zero emissions” would escape the 2030 sales ban, while signaling that sales of vehicles that switch between motor and battery power while running, so-called “full hybrids”, would still be allowed could.

The policy proposal document, released after consultation with industry, said it could “not finalize that definition” until ministers had sales targets for electric vehicles.

The delay leaves automakers selling such hybrids – which include Honda, Hyundai and Renault – uncertain whether models using the technology will still be allowed in UK showrooms from the end of the decade.

It takes automakers several years to change production schedules, especially when it comes to modifications to existing auto plants. Toyota has previously warned it would stop investing in its UK factory, where more than 80 percent of production is hybrid, if sales of its technology were banned.

Honda said: “We are disappointed that the government has delayed setting a definition of which hybrids can be sold after 2030.”

Other proposed policy changes would discourage automakers from pooling their CO2 emissions levels, as they are currently doing, to bring them into line with existing targets.

It would be replaced by a similar system that would allow manufacturers that exceed their zero emissions sales target to sell “credits” to other automakers with model lines that do not meet the targets.

This would allow smaller corporations like Ferrari or Aston Martin to stick to the scheme in the early years before launching all-electric models. The Government says half of all new UK cars should be electric by 2028

Adam Bradshaw

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