New rules requiring car manufacturers to sell a minimum proportion of zero-emission vehicles have come into force, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
Under the mandate, which became law on Wednesday, at least 22% of new cars sold by manufacturers in the UK this year must be zero-emission.
That generally involves pure electric vehicles (EVs).
The threshold will rise annually until it reaches 100% by 2035.
There is also a threshold for van sales, starting at 10% this year.
Manufacturers which fail to abide by the rule or make use of flexibilities – such as carrying over allowances from previous years – will be required to pay the Government £15,000 per polluting vehicle sold above the limits.
The mandate is a devolved policy and was developed with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure.
The Westminster Government’s technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne, who will visit an EV charging hub installed by bp pulse in central London on Wednesday, said: “Alongside us having spent more than £2 billion in the transition to electric vehicles, our zero-emission vehicle mandate will further boost the economy and support manufacturers to safeguard skilled British jobs in the automotive industry.
“We are providing investment certainty for the charging sector to expand our charging network, which has already grown by 44% since this time last year.
“This will support the constantly growing number of EVs in the UK, which currently account for over 16% of the new UK car market.”
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The industry is investing billions in decarbonisation and recognises the importance of the zero-emission vehicles mandate in delivering net zero.
“The regulation means the UK retains the most ambitious timeline of any major market yet without private consumer incentives.
“While manufacturers offer a vast range of zero-emission vehicles, demand must match supply.
“Delivering a buoyant EV market means giving all consumers the confidence to invest, which requires an attractive package of fiscal incentives, mandated infrastructure targets and a consistent message that encourages drivers to switch now.”
In September last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delayed the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK from 2030 to 2035.
Akira Kirton, vice president of bp pulse in the UK, said: “This mandate instils confidence in our strategy, reaffirming our plans to invest £1 billion over 10 years to continue to develop hundreds of EV charging hubs across the country by 2030 to bolster the UK’s charging infrastructure.”
It emerged on Tuesday that a Government target for EV chargers near motorways has been missed.
The DfT set an ambition for there to be at least six rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.
But just 46 out of 119 sites (39%) met the target, according to RAC analysis of data from charger locator service Zapmap.
The DfT said the number of public chargepoints is “surging across the country”.