A More Flexible Road to Zero Emissions Vehicles in the UK and the EU

October 2023
Region: Europe

Several recent changes of law and policy in the EU and the UK have resulted in a more flexible approach to the adoption of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).

In the UK, the government is maintaining its commitment that all new cars and vans that are sold in the UK must be zero emissions at the tailpipe by 1 January 2035. Whilst the UK government announced that it is delaying its plans to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2030 to 2035, the previously announced targets for the proportion of new car and van sales to be ZEVs remain in place. It is just that from 1 January 2030 to 31 December 2034, diesel and petrol cars and vans may now be sold alongside hybrid powered cars and vans in the UK.

Whilst several vehicle manufacturers and other groups have expressed disappointment to the relaxation of the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2030 to 2035, the change does align the UK with the EU.

However, it is worth noting that whilst a ZEV vehicle must have 0 grams CO2/km, it does not necessarily need to be a battery vehicle. In addition, this standard may also be met by hydrogen options (both for fuel cells and combustion engines) and by synthetic fuels. Whilst it is currently thought that battery electric options will dominate for new cars and vans in developed countries, there are a number of other options and some of the alternative options will be far more practicable in other parts of the world. In particular, options exist to use hydrogen to power batteries or combustion engines and synthetic fuels are being developed for use in existing combustion engines without any adaptation. All of this will be highly relevant to vehicle manufacturers designing vehicles in global markets.

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