The UK is Europe’s second-largest zero-emission car market by volume. However, to continue its progress and emergence from the early EV adopter phase, new fiscal incentives must be provided, SMMT said on Monday.

During its SMMT Electrified event in London, the automotive trade body and industry leaders warned that to spur mass-market EV adoption, the country needs to support private buyers. Currently, the UK is the only major European market with no consumer EV incentives, despite having the most ambitious transition timeline. The only incentives available are for business purchases, which explains why the growth seen in the market comes from fleets.

The industry has identified four “inspiring incentives” to accelerate the EV transition in the country: reduce VAT on new EV sales; mandate targets for chargepoint rollout; raise the threshold for the vehicle excise duty expensive car supplement; and cut VAT on public charging to 5% in line with home charging. While these calls aren’t new, SMMT warns that a “faster and fairer mass transition” is threatened by the absence of private buyer support.

Affordability and uncertainty regarding charging infrastructure availability remain the main obstacles to the switch from internal combustions to EVs, SMMT says. Currently, EV penetration in the British car market stands at 16%, but this is expected to increase to 18% by year-end, Kallanish finds.

“We are entering a new phase in the UK’s EV transition, in which Britain can, and should, be a leader,” says SMMT ceo Mike Hawes. “We have the industry, the love of new technology and the scale to succeed. Government has recently demonstrated its commitment to EV manufacturing in the UK and that commitment must be extended to the consumer.”

The Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate “due to revolutionise the [UK] market in just over 100 days,” must be matched by demand, Hawes adds.  

The mandate, subject to a final regulation, will require carmakers to ensure that a certain percentage of new cars they sell in the UK market will be zero-emission. The percentage will rise each year, reaching 100% by 2030.