Decarbonising Transport

Decarbonising Transport

By now, we’ve all heard a lot about 2030 – the date when the government intends to end the sale of new, conventionally fossil-fuelled cars and vans in the UK.

What we’ve heard less about, or at least it feels that way, is the lead-up to 2030 – what does the government intend to do to make this dramatic shift both possible and practical?

Well, some of the answers are starting to come into focus, in part because of a report that the government published in the summer, called Decarbonising Transport: A Better, Greener Britain. This report contained policies relating to a number of different modes of transport, from trains (e.g. an extensive programme of electrification) to planes (e.g. a potential target for all UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040). But many of the most significant commitments were to do with road transport.

What were those commitments? The report restated the 2030 date, of course. It also restated the government’s policy on petrol and diesel hybrids: certain hybrid cars and vans will be allowed to remain on sale until 2035, so long as they offer ‘significant zero emission capability’. And it proposed a new target, too: sales of all new non-zero emission vehicles to be phased out by 2040 – which includes HGVs.

When it comes to the details of achieving those dates, much was saved for the supplementary documents that were published alongside Decarbonising Transport. These included one called Transitioning to zero emission cars and vans: 2035 delivery plan and another called Green Paper on a New Road Vehicle CO2 Emissions Regulatory Framework for the United Kingdom. The titles might be wordy and dry – and so, to some extent, are the contents – but they ought to be of particular interest to fleet professionals.

The first, the delivery plan, sets out the steps that the government currently intends to take on the way to 2030 and 2035 – a mix of existing and new measures that, according to the official calculations, will cost the exchequer about £2.8 billion.

These steps include £1.3 billion to speed up the proliferation of charge points around the country, with the money spread across various schemes. £950 million, for example, has been set aside for the Rapid Charging Fund, which supports the installation of rapid and ultra-rapid charge points at motorway service stations across England. The delivery plan anticipates that there will be at least 6 such charge points at each English service station by 2023.

As part of this spending on the country’s charging infrastructure, the delivery plan also commits to continuing the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme – the grant scheme that reduces the cost of residential charge points for homeowners, although the priority is due to shift to leaseholders, renters and those living in flats in 2022 – until at least 2025. The same goes for the Workplace Charging Scheme.

Outside of charge points, the delivery plan confirms that funding for the Plug-in Car Grant will continue until at least 2023. And it earmarks up to £1 billion for the Automotive Transformation Fund, which is designed to support investment by manufacturers in the UK’s electric vehicle supply chain. Crucially, the plan says that these measures – and others – will be assessed in a full progress review in 2025.

The other supplementary document, the Green Paper on a New Road Vehicle CO2 Emissions Regulatory Framework for the United Kingdom, does overlap with the delivery plan – although it also offers greater clarity in some areas. Its focus is, as its title suggests, the various regulatory changes that the government could introduce to encourage cleaner motoring.

Perhaps the most significant of these is the ‘ZEV Mandate’, which the green paper raises as a possible route forward. This would impose a requirement on manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles each year. In the version described in the paper, this requirement could take the form of ‘credits’ – manufacturers would earn credits for each applicable sale and would have to hold enough credits at the end of each calendar year. It might even be possible for manufacturers to ‘buy’ credits from each other, to meet the target another way – although the whole system would also be backed up by an overall CO2 target, so manufacturers would have to make sure that their fleets are sufficiently clean in any case.

The green paper reveals that this ZEV Mandate – alongside other potential regulatory regimes – will be put to public consultation. Significantly, it also marks the start of consultation periods for a number of the measures proposed across the Decarbonising Transport documents, including the 2040 date for ending sales of all new non-zero emission road vehicles, and the question of which new hybrids will be counted as having ‘significant zero emission capability’ and therefore still be permitted between 2030 and 2035.

All in all, the Decarbonising Transport report doesn’t provide us with all of the answers about 2030 or indeed how we will reach it. But it does give some answers, and it has kick-started the process by which we will get more. We now await the outcomes of all those consultations. Stay tuned.


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The ALD Automotive Consultancy Team

We specialise in designing efficient and cost effective responses to the changing fleet environment. We empower you to understand and optimise the transition of your fleet to a mobility based model. Using our collective insight and expertise, we can support you with the integration of Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles and other smart mobility solutions.


About the contributor

Tash Turner

Fleet Consultant

Specialisms: Financial modelling, Total Cost of Ownership, Fleet Optimisation and Mobility

Tash has over 12 years’ industry experience, including previous roles in Strategic Account Management at KINTO UK and Venson Automotive, working with a variety of private, public and not for profit businesses with both car and van fleets varying from 50 – 5,000 vehicles.  

Tash joined ALD in 2021, bringing a wealth of experience and proven ability in working in partnership with customers to identify cost-saving opportunities, share best practice and advise on future strategic fleet decisions. She has considerable experience working with businesses to identify the most suitable funding methodologies as well as enabling and supporting the creation of robust, adaptable and suitable fleet polices, including integration of alternative fuels and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).



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