New cars bought in the UK must be zero emission by 2035 – it's the law

Meanwhile, finding a public charge point that works and doesn't require a second mortgage remains a challenge

All new cars and vans bought in the UK must be zero emission by 2035, according to the latest legal mandate updated this week.

The date for all new petrol and diesel cars to be banned was originally set for 2030. However, in September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pushed this date back to 2035. The government says this is giving consumers more time to make the switch and deal with the UK's charging infrastructure.

The transition will still be challenging. Eighty percent of new cars and 70 percent of new vans sold in Great Britain must be zero emission by 2030, increasing to 100 percent by 2035. While the government points to statistics indicating a 41 percent increase in zero-emission vehicles registered for the first time – note, the vast majority of newly registered vehicles still remain conventionally powered – charging infrastructure is an altogether different story.

The government boasts of more than 50,000 public charge points, an increase of 44 percent year on year, but not all chargers are born equal. According to research from RAC, a local roadside assistance business, the government has failed to meet its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England.

According to the RAC, only 46 of the 119 motorway services it looked at (39 percent) met or exceeded the target. It also found that four areas have no charging facilities whatsoever.

To address this, the government has launched a £70 million ($88.8 million) pilot to support the deployment of ultra-rapid charging points at motorway service areas.

Then there is the time to charge. 50,000 public charging points might sound impressive, yet the UK has only just passed the 10,000 mark for rapid and ultra-rapid charge points; essential for drivers who do not want to spend hours waiting just to add a few miles to their range.

EV owners are faced with a bewildering array of charging options, from using a UK three-pin plug through various types and speeds up to the latest and greatest from Tesla. There is also the cost – charging at home is usually considerably cheaper than using a public charge point, where the price can vary wildly.

Finally, the government's plans also fail to tackle that other challenge faced by EV drivers: finding a public charge point that actually works. ®

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