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The Government has detailed its plans to move to a net-zero transport network. We look at the key points for fleets and business travel

 

The UK Government has laid out its intentions to fully decarbonise the UK’s domestic transport network by 2050. It has already confirmed that the UK will phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 with all new cars due to be zero emission by 2035. Now it has fleshed out how it plans to help the country break away from the combustion engine. Here are the detail behind the headlines.

 

CO2 TARGETS
The Government says it has two main options – either progressively tightening CO2 targets on the current basis until it eventually reaches 0g/km in 2035 or introducing a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate that will set sales percentage targets. The latter would sit alongside the CO2 targets.

Under the ZEV mandate, manufacturers would earn credits for selling zero-emission vehicles, rather than having their overall CO2 emissions monitored as they are at the moment. Brands would be able to meet their target through selling zero-emission vehicles or by buying credits from manufacturers that have over-performed against their own targets. Cars could get more credits for having a longer zero-emission range.

The Government is consulting on which way to head, but whichever system it chooses it is likely to use fines to punish brands that don’t hit the required levels.

It also says: “We will aim to introduce a new road vehicle CO2 emissions regulatory regime in 2024.” There is no further detail on that as yet though.

 

INCENTIVES
To help encourage users into these zero-emission vehicles, £582m has been set aside for plug-in vehicle grants. This is not a new announcement, though, and applies up until 2022/23, with the money to be used to incentivise the purchase of plug-in cars, vans, taxis and motorcycles.

Favourable company vehicle tax rates have been confirmed up until April 2025, for both cars and vans. Cars will be subject to a low level of BIK, this will not go above 2% while vans will not be subject to any benefit charge. There will also be no VED on ZEVs, both cars and vans.

 

THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN FLEET
The Government has said it intends to lead from the front and has committed to making 25% of its own fleet ultra-low emission by December 2022. It plans to then make its car and van fleet 100% electric by 2027.

Other public sector fleets are following suit, with NHS England saying that 90% of its fleet will be low, ultra-low or zero-emission by 2028. The Greater London Authority is another that has committed to all vehicles being zero-emission capable from 2025.

Timeline to 2040

2021

In the first half of this year:

8.1% of new cars were pure EV.

6.4% were plug-in hybrid.

10.2% were diesel.

Petrol with up to 10% ethanol (E10) to be made standard from September.

 

2030

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will come to an end, with all vehicles required to have “a significant zero-emissions capability”.

 

2035

All new cars and vans must be zero emission at the tailpipe, likewise all new L-category vehicles (scooters, motorbikes, mopeds).

All HGVs weighing between 3.5-tonnes and 26 tonnes to be zero emission.*

 

2040

All HGVs to be zero-emission*.

The date for buses and coaches to be zero-emission has yet to be set and is still under consultation.

*Still subject to consultation

CHARGING
Up to £1.3bn has been set aside to be invested in charging infrastructure in the UK. By 2023, the Government aims to have at least six charging points capable of 150-350Kw charging at each motorway service station in England, with as many as 12 at larger sites. By 2035, authorities expect to have supported the installation of 6000 ultra-rapid charging points on motorways and A-roads.

£20m has also been put aside to help local authorities install on-street and car-park charging points while a new £90m fund will support the rollout of larger schemes and rapid charging hubs from 2022 onwards. It plans to publish a guide for local authorities later this year.

The Workplace Charging Scheme is being extended to aid SMEs from April next year, while plans are in motion to require all new-build residential and office buildings with parking attached to have charging points installed.

The Government will regulate to ensure that all new home and workplace chargepoints have smart capability by the end of 2021, to allow optimised demand on the grid. This means that they have the ability to be sent information and respond by adjusting the flow of energy and the time at which the energy is deployed.

Phase two of the charging plan is scheduled to be in place by 2025, with a decision on what it will include due by the end of 2022. It is expected to cover features such as smart metering, although the final options are still being considered.

Other goals include:

l Being able to easily compare the cost of charging across different networks.

l Having a payment option that doesn’t require a smartphone.

l A simple payment option for fleet drivers to replace the fuel card.

 

The proposal is that the requirements would come into force at the point that the regulations are enacted, with the various charging businesses given 12 months to retrofit points.

 

HYDROGEN
Hydrogen hasn’t been forgotten, but there is more to come on this front – the Government is planning to publish a Hydrogen Strategy report this summer, which will look at the increased production and use of hydrogen in the UK. As part of this future, £3m is being spent to create the first multi-modal hydrogen transport hub in Tees Valley, with pilots set to take place in the area as a result. The ‘Decarbonising Transport’ report talks about hydrogen more in relation to trains and buses than cars and vans, though.

 

GOVERNMENT SETS OUT ITS LONG-TERM DECARBONISATION PLAN - August 2021 - Image 2OTHER FORMS OF TRANSPORT
To encourage people out of their cars, the plan includes a “world class cycling and walking network in England by 2040.”

This will be brought about through rewards programmes, tax relief and GP intervention. Expect to see an increase in the number of segregated cycle lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods, which the government says reduces motor traffic in the local and wider area, albeit after an initial period of adjustment.

Further national e-scooter trials will be implemented – there have been 32 such trials across the country since July 2020.

There are also plans to create an all-electric bus town or city, with consultations set to determine when buses and coaches must be EV only. The rail network is to be ‘net zero’ by 2050 with a goal of removing diesel only trains from the tracks by 2040.

Car clubs will be encouraged, with “support” to go fully zero-emissions, although Government hasn’t yet fully clarified what form this support will take.

There is also the first indication of the timescale for when we will see HGVs become zero emission – the plan is to end the sale of non-zero-emission HGVs totally in 2040, with sales of those between 3.5 tonnes and 26 tonnes scheduled to cease by 2035. This is set to be consulted on, though.

 

OTHER INVESTMENTS

l £500m is being invested as part of the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) over the next four years to help build the electric supply chain.

l In 2021/22, £15m is being put towards fixing various traffic signals to improve traffic flow.
Tom Webster