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UK to ban new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030 - hybrids from 2035

Date: 18 November 2020   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK will end by 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The widely anticipated move sees the date brought forward by 10 years from the government's initial target of 2040, and follows proposals outlined earlier this year to move the date to 2035.

At that time hybrid vehicle sales were to end alongside petrol and diesel vehicles, but the government now says that the sale of hybrids 'that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe' can continue until 2035.

The announcement of the ban, which also includes vans, comes with the announcement of £1.3 billion of funding for the rollout of EV chargers, £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles, and nearly £500 million for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.

Reacting to the announcement, Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: "This is a seismic step towards delivering on government's Road to Zero policy and one we are fully in support of. However, it simply won't happen overnight. Petrol and diesel-powered cars accounted for 73% of new car sales this year so far.

"2030 will come around particularly quickly for businesses with large fleets of traditionally-fuelled cars and vans. With the new target, they'll have just over two replacement cycles to make the shift. 

"Although more businesses are exploring switching to EVs already, today's announcement makes this transition much more pressing and firms will need to start to act now."

Giving his reaction, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said: "We share the government's ambition for leadership in decarbonising road transport and are committed to the journey. Manufacturers have invested billions to deliver vehicles that are already helping thousands of drivers switch to zero, but this new deadline, fast-tracked by a decade, sets an immense challenge.

"We are pleased, therefore, to see the government accept the importance of hybrid transition technologies - which drivers are already embracing as they deliver carbon savings now - and commit to additional spending on purchase incentives."

Hawes also welcomed the announcement of funding for EV manufacturing, but cautioned: "Success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies, that they will deliver their mobility needs and, critically, that they can recharge as easily as they refuel. For that, we look to others to step up and match our commitment. 

"We will now work with the government on the detail of this plan, which must be delivered at pace to achieve a rapid transition that benefits all of society, and safeguards UK automotive manufacturing and jobs."

In a statement, leasing and rental industry body the BVRLA said that it welcomed the government's decision to take a phased approach.

It said: "All [BVRLA members] are committed to decarbonising, but some face a much harder challenge than others. Many fleet operators are unable to source appropriate EVs for their needs while others have a business model that struggles to absorb the additional cost and charging constraints of running EVs.

"2030 is an extremely aggressive phase-out target, but one that will be embraced by many drivers and fleet operators.

"The 2035 extension for plug-in and full hybrids provides an essential lifeline for those facing a greater zero-emission challenge. Vehicle rental companies and van fleet operators will be very relieved to have this additional breathing space but will need clarity on exactly what types of hybrid are in scope."

The BVRLA added that setting dates was only the start of the process.

It said: "Now the government needs to create the supportive environment that will enable fleets and motorists to step up to the challenge of decarbonising road transport. It won't be easy, and it won't be cheap."