Government confirms petrol and diesel ban will be brought forward to 2030

The UK Government will ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 - 10 years earlier than originally planned - Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.

Mr Johnson confirmed the widely-predicted move as he set out a 10-point environmental plan for a “green industrial revolution”.

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Earlier this year the Prime Minister had suggested the proposed ban could be moved forward to 2035 but the latest announcement goes a step further and brings the UK in line with several other countries, including Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. Only Norway has a more ambitious target - of 2025.

From 2030 the sale of all new cars and vans powered exclusively by a petrol or diesel combustion engine will be banned in a bid to cut the UK’s emissions and air pollution. Sales of hybrids which can cover “a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe” - ie. plug-in hybrids - will be allowed until 2035.

From 2030, almost all new cars will have to be zero-emission (Photo: Shutterstock)

To help with the widespread transition to EVs, the Government will invest £1.3 billion in charging infrastructure to accelerate the installation of charging points in homes, on streets and at motorway services. It will also offer £582 million in grants to help people buy EVs and spend £500m investing in the development and large-scale construction of EV batteries in the UK.

Announcing his 10-point plan, the Prime Minister said: “Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future."

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Uptake of EVs is rapidly growing in the UK but still represents a relatively small proportion of new car sales. So far in 2020 new EV registrations are up 168.7 per cent year-on-year, with 75,946 pure EVs sold up to the start of November. This is 5.5 per cent of all new car registrations in 2020.

Reaction to the ban

The move has been met with a cautious welcome from many observers who have praised efforts to cut pollution but warned that the Government faces challenges around infrastructure, pricing and public perception of electric cars.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “We share 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.

“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."

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that the car and charging industries now faced an “enormous task”.

He said: “Production lines that for decades have been set up to build cars powered with internal combustion engines will have to be transformed to allow manufacturers to profitably build a wider range of EV models in sufficient quantities. Meanwhile the country’s public charging network will need to grow exponentially to cater for the surge in EVs on the road.

“There’s also lots for consumers to get used to in order for them to feel confident about going electric. Running an EV is currently very different to a petrol or diesel car which can be refuelled in a matter of minutes, so those switching in the next few years face a big learning curve which involves different types of chargers, connectors and varying charging speeds.

“But for the time being the biggest barrier to going electric remains the comparatively high upfront vehicle cost, so we hope the Government’s announcement will pave the way to lower list prices, thereby accelerating take-up. This in turn will help lead to EVs being more readily available on the second-hand market which is where the majority of people choose to buy their vehicles."

One of the big concerns remains around the country's charging infrastructre (Photo: Shutterstock)

AAs president Edmund King said: "Everyone wants to move to electric vehicles but you can't just pick a date out of the air. We need better infrastructure particularly for the third of people who can't charge at home.

"We also need a better supply of cars and they need to be affordable."

Chris Burghardt, managing director in Europe, for charging network ChargePoint, said the new date for the ban was a step in the right direction but added: “Not only do we need to ensure that this date is feasible but also remember that to fight against climate change, we need electric transport to be the option of choice from now not 2030. As such, the UK government needs to support this ban with a package of consistent incentives, support and consumer information which demonstrates to consumers which vehicles they should be investing in should they want to purchase a new car from today onwards.

“Wider infrastructure is another point of discussion - creating a robust, easy-to-use and cost effective network of electric vehicle charging points needs to be high on the government's agenda alongside this ban.”