The Road to Zero Strategy outlines how the government will support the transition to zero-emission road transport and reduce emissions from conventional vehicles along the way. The strategy aims to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero-emission by 2040. By then, it is expected that the majority of new cars and vans sold will be 100% zero-emission and that all new cars and vans will have a significant zero-emission capability. By 2050, the government wants almost every car and van to be zero-emission.

Although today’s new cars are significantly more efficient than those bought in 1990, transport greenhouse emissions have fallen just 2% since 1990. As a result, transport is now the largest sector of UK greenhouse gas emissions (27%), of which road transport accounts for over 90%.

Petrol and diesel vehicles have dominated the market for over a century and still account for more than 99% of global sales. In the UK, there are 38.9 million vehicles and, according to the 2017 vehicles licensing statistics, the vast majority were fossil fuel vehicles, with 52% petrol and 45% diesel.

However, change has arrived: sales of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) are increasing rapidly, and countries, regions and cities across the world have announced long-term plans for cleaner road transport. By some estimates, ultra-low emission vehicles will make up over half of the global car sales by 2040. The transition will mean fundamental changes to the global automotive market, worth over £1.5 trillion a year, and new opportunities for the UK.

As a clear statement of intent to industry and consumers, the UK government wants to see new cars and vans delivering as many zero-emission miles as possible, as fast as possible, starting today. The Road to Zero Strategy acknowledges that these ambitions will only be achieved with:

  • Adequate vehicle supply

More innovation and investment are needed so that ultra-low emission vehicles are ready for mass adoption across all vehicle types in a sustainable and affordable way.

  • A strong consumer base and the right market conditions:

Recent surveys indicate concerns and confusion around the technology; concerns about the higher upfront costs of the vehicles and infrastructure provision remains a barrier. The right incentives and policy framework will be vital to increasing the numbers of consumers who want to buy ultra-low emission vehicles.

  • A fit for purpose infrastructure network

As we move to the mass adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles, more infrastructure will be needed.

The Government will need to play its part in addressing these challenges. The Strategy sets out to provide a world-leading and wide-ranging package of consumer incentives; research and development (R&D) and innovation support; support for the development of one of the best infrastructure networks in the world; and will take steps to ensure the energy system is ready to meet future demand. The Government cannot deliver a zero-emission future for the UK alone; so at the heart of this strategy is a commitment to work in partnership with industry, businesses, academia, environmental groups, devolved administrations, local government, consumers and international partners.

The Road to Zero provides a much needed strategic vision for the vehicle sector. However, it leaves two important questions largely unanswered. How will the energy sector fulfil the increased demand for electricity implied by this transition to electric vehicles? And how will we address the demands for new skills or training required by the workforce serving this shift?

Please click here to find out more about the Road to Zero Strategy.