Four in every five vehicles sold must be electric by the end of the decade, ministers have told car bosses, despite Rishi Sunak’s decision to delay a ban on new petrol sales.
Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, is understood to have told companies building charging points that the Government is pressing ahead with the so-called zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which sets sales targets that ramp up each year.
The mandate will require 22pc of cars sold by manufacturers to be electric from next year. By 2030, the quota will gradually rise to 80pc.
Carmakers that cannot hit the annual targets must either sell more electric vehicles in future years, purchase credits from rivals, or pay a fine of £15,000 per car.
On Wednesday, Mr Harper told members of industry group ChargeUK that the Government was set to push forward with this plan, multiple sources told the The Telegraph.
Hours later, Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, also confirmed the requirement for 80pc of sales to be electric would be in place by 2030, during an interview with BBC Breakfast.
It comes despite the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday that he was delaying a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales until 2035, arguing that the Government should not “force” drivers to go electric.
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former business secretary, said on Thursday that Mr Sunak’s changes to net zero policy could help the Conservative Party win the next general election, adding that the overhaul put “the interests of consumers, of the British people, first”.
Sir Jacob said: “Rishi Sunak has sent the hairshirt to the incinerator, he’s lifted the burden off society and actually he will make net zero by 2050 more, rather than less, likely.”
The delay to the petrol car ban has triggered a mixed response from carmakers, with Ford warning it was a “mistake” while Toyota praised the decision as pragmatic.
A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said: “JLR supports the ambitions of the ZEV mandate and we look forward to the certainty it will bring.”
A Toyota spokesman said: “We are continuing all discussions with the UK government and those discussions are based on constructive dialogue.”
Confusion reigned on what exactly the Prime Minister’s pledge meant for the mandate on Thursday, with Cabinet ministers having previously clashed over how stringent the ZEV rules should be.
The uncertainty has the potential to reopen a Cabinet rift over the issue, with Ms Badenoch having previously pushed for the rules to be watered down.
Some car manufacturers have warned that they will be unable to meet the ZEV targets in the first year and have urged ministers to relax them, while charge point companies have warned the quotas are essential to underpin multimillion-pound investments in charging infrastructure across Britain.
EV companies also fear the Prime Minister’s decision to push back the petrol car ban will dampen consumer interest in electric cars, making it harder to ramp up sales.
In a bid to quell the concerns, Mr Harper is understood to have told charge point companies that the requirement for 22pc of sales to be electric would come into force from January, despite no formal announcement having yet been published.
He suggested that “limited” changes could be made to the mandate, without giving further detail.
A Whitehall source did not dispute the account.
On Thursday, car companies told The Telegraph they had been left in the dark but were also working on the basis that the ZEV mandate would come into effect, largely as proposed.
One car industry insider said: “We have not been told anything different, so we’re still expecting it to come into force in January.”
The Government consulted on the mandate earlier this year but – with less than four months to go until it would take effect – ministers have yet to publish a formal decision or pass the proposals into law.
The plan needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament and The Telegraph understands MPs will be given the opportunity to vote on the mandate at some point after the King’s Speech in November.
On Thursday, the Department for Transport would only say that it expected to publish the plans “in due course”.
It was speculated that the mandate targets might be softened after the PM delayed the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by five years.
Dr Andy Palmer, a former top Nissan executive and chief executive of charging company PodPoint, said: “My understanding has been that few UK or European manufacturers support the [January] 2024 target and many of them would fail it – the only ones who will easily achieve it are the Chinese.”
The Government did not confirm its plans either way on Thursday.