UK poised to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

The UK Government is expected to confirm this week that it will bring a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward by five years to 2030.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make the announcement later this week as part of a wider package of green initiatives, according to the Financial Times.

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The Government had initially proposed banning the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 but in February Mr Johnson announced he intended to move the ban forward to 2035.

Citing Whitehall and industry sources, the FT reports that he will now accelerate the ban further to help cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government wants EVs to be the norm for new car buyers by 2030 (Photo: Shutterstock)

According to the FT, the proposed ban will cover cars powered purely by petrol and diesel, with a ban on petrol-electric and diesel-electric hybrids coming in five years later. This is a change in position from the initial 2035 plan, which had seen plans to ban any new car with a combustion engine, whether or not it featured a hybrid element.

Demand for electric cars has soared in the last year, with new registrations doubling compared with 2019. However they still represent less than seven per cent of all new car sales in the UK, and alternative fuel vehicles (EVs, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles) account for 25 per cent.

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The RAC called the 2030 plan “extremely ambitious” and warned that the Government and industry faced challenges in getting the charging infrastructure in place and in making EVs affordable for more drivers.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "The car industry clearly now faces a monumental challenge to change its production lines, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure will need to be expanded at an incredible pace to cope with the surge in electric vehicles. We believe many more rapid charging devices are needed in order to give drivers the confidence that they can make longer journeys in a convenient and time efficient manner.

“It also remains the case that the upfront cost of electric vehicles is currently far too high for most people to afford when comparing them to an equivalent-sized conventional vehicle, so prices will have to come down dramatically in order to make them a realistic option for more people.”

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Ian Plummer, director of Auto Trader, also warned that the current price gap between ICE cars and EVs needed to be addressed.

He said: “In order to meet the government’s new ban of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the sale of EVs must overtake the sale of traditional ICE cars by 2024. But, on the current sales trajectory this won’t happen until 2029.

“It’s clear that electric vehicles need to be the preferred option to the masses and not just to those who are environmentalists, early adopters or the wealthy that can afford their high price tags, but that isn’t the case yet. Over the last six months, while supply levels of EVs have increased with the launch of several new models, consumer demand hasn’t increased at the same pace.

“With a persistent price gap often as much as 15-20 per cent compared to petrol or diesel equivalents, the key barrier to mass adoption remains upfront cost according to 61 per cent of car buyers that we surveyed in August. This is even more of a concern with no Brexit trade deal; tariffs of around 10 per cent will be applied to cars coming into the UK so the cost of electric vehicles could be as much as 30 per cent more than what consumers are used to spending on petrol and diesel cars today.”

Concerns remain around whether the infrastructure will be advanced enough to support a wholesale switch to EVs (Photo: Shutterstock)

One of the main concerns about switching to an EV among consumers is around access to and speed of charging. According to the latest data from the Department for Transport, there are 19,487 public charging devices around the UK, an 18 per cent increase in 2020 so far. However, only a fifth of these are rapid (43kW or higher) and the distribution around the country is uneven. While London, Scotland and England’s North East all have higher-than-average provision for their populations, other areas such as Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland and England’s North West lag a long way behind.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has warned that the UK will need 1.7 million public chargers by 2030, requiring an investment of £16.7 billion to realise this target. In January, the Government said it would invest £10m in public charging infrastructure.

Ian Johnston, CEO of rapid charging network Osprey Charging said: “The spotlight is now on industry and government to ensure that the necessary charging infrastructure is in place to make the switch to electric as frictionless as possible for motorists. The private sector is deploying a vast network of reliable and accessible public charging points and the Government must also step up action to fund infrastructure in rural areas and create an attractive trading environment for EV supply. When broadband was rolled out, we saw huge delays in rural areas, the effects of which are still felt today – we must not let that happen again.”

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Nicholas Lyes also warned that the Government will need to address the loss of nearly £30bn a year in fuel duty once petrol and diesel cars are banned.

He said: “The Government also now needs to work out how it’s going to plug the inevitable hole in fuel duty revenue that the switch to EVs will create. Currently, it collects around £28bn a year from fuel duty so the Treasury will need to quickly devise a new system that is fair for all drivers.”