Ford could cut UK ICE sales to meet EV sales targets | CAR Magazine

Ford could cut UK ICE sales to meet EV sales targets

Published: 08 May 2024

Ford under pressure to meet UK ZEV sales mandate
Ford Europe boss lays out options
UK EV demand way off target

Ford may restrict UK supplies of combustion-engine (ICE) cars in an effort to meet electric vehicle (EV) sales targets, the company’s European head has said. The comments come amid lower than expected EV demand in the UK and across Europe.

Speaking at the Financial Times’ annual Future of the Car summit, Martin Sander said: “We can’t push EVs into the market against demand. We’re not going to pay penalties. We are not going to sell EVs at huge losses just to buy compliance. The only alternative is to take our shipments of [ICE] cars to the UK down and sell these vehicles somewhere else.

“I don’t know if consumers in the UK would like seeing [ICE cars] prices going up,” Sander added. He also noted that the speed of the EV switch was ultimately “down to the consumer.”

As of 1 January 2024, most UK car manufacturers are subject to the Government’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) sales mandate. Under the mandate, they have to meet a quota for sales of ZEVs – that basically means battery electric vehicles, though alternative powertrains such as hydrogen fuel cells also count.

Ford Explorer - Ford could cut UK ICE sales to meet EV sales targets

In 2024, that quota is 22% of all cars each manufacturer sells. The number increases aggressively to reach 100% in 2035. Manufacturers that miss the quota will be fined £15,000 for every excess ICE car sold.

But EV sales are lagging behind expectations. New car registration figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that, in the year to the end of April 2024, EVs account for just 15.7% of the market. That’s more than six percent below the Government’s target.

Demand for EVs is growing, but the SMMT notes that the growth is driven entirely by fleets and company cars drivers, “predominantly due to compelling fiscal incentives.”

By contrast, demand from private retail buyers has been falling for many months. In April 2024, less than 15% of new EVs went to such buyers. “The lack of government support for private motorists remains a barrier that cannot be overcome by industry alone,” the SMMT said.

Ford had originally planned to have an all-EV line-up in the UK and Europe by 2030, however Sander described that target as “irrelevant.”

He added: “Demand is behind our expectations now and we are not hitting our ambitious targets. Everyone is getting extremely nervous.

Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Ford could cut UK ICE sales to meet EV sales targets

“We are committed to zero emissions. We just need to be reasonable about it and together find a way to manage to get to net zero in a profitable way.”

Ford currently only has one electric car available in UK showrooms – the Mustang Mach-E. It will be joined later in 2024 by the VW-based Explorer SUV and an electric version of the Puma will arrive in 2025. Electric Tourneo MPVs and a coupe-SUV are also in the works.    

By Graham King

Senior Staff Writer for Parkers. Car obsessive, magazine and brochure collector, trivia mine.