EDITOR’S COMMENT: if car manufacturers want to sell more electric cars they can, but they shouldn’t be forced to. Similarly, if people want to buy them, they should be able to, but the government shouldn’t force people to, or force people to subsidise them for others who can afford them.

The Government is considering a new ‘zero-emission mandate’ scheme which will see firms forced to sell their models even if demand is lower than other fuel types. It is understood that firms who failed to meet their electric car target could purchase credit from other manufacturers.

This could be great for the consumer with firms possibly set to axe upfront costs on some models to ensure they leave the forecourt. But it could also ensure the government can phase out bonuses such as free road tax and the Plug-In grant as the cars transition from novelties to the mainstream. Ministers feel this would be the easiest way to deliver on a pledge to end the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

The proposals would be similar to an idea launched in California in the 1990s which introduced stricter measures to cut down on pollution rates. The Committee on Climate Change first tabled proposals for a zero-emission vehicle mandate in their 2020 summer report. The Committee recommended that sales targets for zero-carbon vehicles should be achieved between 2020-21. The Committee added that extra support for electric vehicle infrastructure should also be tackled this year to make sure there were no barriers to take up.

Rebecca Newsom, spokesperson for Greenpeace backed the proposals for a vehicle sales mandate claiming it was an “incredibly smart move”. Ms Newsom said that the system could see “costs come down and sales go up” which would incentivise many to make the switch. She said: “Moving the ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans forward to 2030 is an absolute must if the government is to meet its legally binding climate commitments. “Any later and it becomes almost impossible. But a ban alone won’t see this change take place without the policies that force it over the line.

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