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Documents reveal companies lobbied government to compromise beneficial electric vehicle mandates: 'It will be interesting to see how this manifests'

"Whilst being enthusiastic about the EV transition in public, [they] had reservations about these trajectories in private."

"Whilst being enthusiastic about the EV transition in public, [they] had reservations about these trajectories in private."

Photo Credit: iStock

The United Kingdom recently faced pushback from several major automakers over its ambitious plan to phase out gas-powered vehicles and accelerate the shift to electric cars.

Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, and Nissan were among the companies lobbying to weaken or delay the UK's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

What happened?

Under the ZEV mandate, 22% of new cars sold in 2024 must be zero-emission, rising to 80% by 2030. Carmakers that fail to meet the targets would face heavy fines.

However, Toyota, which recently recalled its first electric cars, said it was "extremely concerned" that the goals would be "challenging for manufacturers like Toyota" and could cause financial and brand damage.

Jaguar Land Rover said it was "far from certain" carmakers could hit the early targets, calling them "unachievable."

But not all automakers pushed back. Volkswagen, Ford, and Tesla argued the ZEV mandate should actually be tougher. Ford said the trajectory "can be met by many manufacturers" and "will ensure that those that are lagging accelerate their development."

Why is the lobbying concerning?

Transportation is a top contributor to atmospheric pollution, which causes temperatures to rise and triggers extreme weather events. In some cities, up to 95% of all carbon pollution comes from vehicles. Phasing out gas-powered cars and shifting to EVs is vital for maintaining our planet's health — and the health of our neighbors with compromised respiratory systems.

The lobbying reveals a troubling dynamic. While some automakers are racing ahead to produce EVs, others are tapping the brakes. This risks prolonging the reign of cars that pollute our air. As Volkswagen put it, the ZEV rules are "ambitious but generally feasible."

Laggard carmakers risk losing ground in the EV revolution. They could cede market share to electric leaders like Tesla and BYD, and their factories and workers could be stranded as clean cars take over.

What's being done about the lobbying?

To their credit, UK leaders largely held the line. While allowing some wiggle room, they preserved the core ZEV mandate and targets.

"Clearly a lot of carmakers, whilst being enthusiastic about the EV transition in public, had reservations about these trajectories in private," said EV expert Tom Riley, author of the industry newsletter The Fast Charge. "It will be interesting to see how this manifests with the ZEV mandate kicking in from January."

As consumers, our choices matter, too. Opting for EVs tells our automakers that clean cars are in demand. Before buying a new gas-guzzler, check out the growing array of electric models. They boast lower operating costs, cheaper "fuel," and impressive performance.

By combining smart policies and market choices, we can keep the pedal down on the shift to electric mobility, building a cooler, cleaner world for all.

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