Toyota and Honda say timing of electric car mandate should be slower

A Toyota spokesman said: “Toyota is not objecting to the ZEV mandate itself. However, the proposal for a new zero emissions vehicle mandate in January 2024 is challenging due to its quick introduction timing.

“The auto sector works on product cycles of five to six years, so we welcome appropriate flexibilities to be included during the early years to give a range of manufacturers time to adapt.

“Our basic stance is that we encourage policies that can reduce CO2 emissions and help achieve net zero emissions by making the most of the efforts and strengths that have been developed by each car company.”

A Toyota source stressed that the company was working constructively with the Government as it sought solutions.

‘Give customers and industry time to adapt’

Honda has in recent years sold around 30,000 cars in the UK. The company is no longer manufacturing cars in the UK but has sales teams in the country.

A statement issued to The Telegraph said that Honda was “supportive” of the Government’s decarbonisation drive but suggested fines should not be issued for the first year of the new rules, given the challenge of hitting the targets.

It said that “we are concerned that we still have not had sight of the detailed rules for the ZEV, which comes into force in less than six months.

“We are therefore asking Government to operate the mandate on a ‘monitoring only’ basis in 2024, to give customers and the industry time to adapt to the new rules.”

In recent days Rishi Sunak has said he wants a “pragmatic” approach to the push to make the UK a net zero carbon emitter by 2050.

It is understood that the Transport Department is looking at “flexibilities” for how the new mandate will work, which could include exemptions for small manufacturers.

But there is no public sign that Government is rowing back from implementing the top line demand for one in five cars sold to be zero emission models next year.

A Government source close to the policy said: “We have been listening very carefully to the views of manufacturers throughout this process. It is about getting to the destination, but doing it sensibly.”

A Transport Department spokesman said: “We remain committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, which will not only lower emissions, but also provides certainty to industry and puts us ahead of our European counterparts.”