The industry reacted with anger and disbelief to the decision that the Government have delayed the introduction of its ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans by five years.
Three years after it announced that new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans would not be allowed to be sold in the UK from 2030, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has now decided to delay the ban by five years, with a new start date of 2035.
Prior to the ban being confirmed, Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “The automotive industry has and continues to invest billions in new electric vehicles as the decarbonisation of road transport is essential if net zero is to be delivered.
“Government has played a key part in bringing some of that investment to the UK, and Britain can – and should – be a leader in zero emission mobility both as a manufacturer and market.
“To make this a reality, however, consumers must want to make the switch, which requires from Government a clear, consistent message, attractive incentives and charging infrastructure that gives confidence rather than anxiety. Confusion and uncertainty will only hold them back.”
RAC head of policy Simon Williams says it is “disappointing” that the 2030 date might be pushed back as doing so would risk “slowing down the momentum the motor industry has built up and drivers’ adoption of electric vehicles”.
“Regardless of what happens, we strongly hope manufacturers will continue to produce EVs in ever increasing numbers as this is ultimately what’s needed to help bring prices down for both new and second-hand cars, as cost remains one the biggest barriers to going electric,” he added.
“At the same time, in the run-up to the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars we’d like to see the Government incentivise the cheaper end of the EV market by reintroducing a form of the plug-in car grant.
“It’s also important to remember that the 2030 deadline as it stands only stops the sale of new petrol and diesel cars which means a lot of people won’t be affected as the majority tend to buy used vehicles.”
ALD LeasePlan UK is strongly opposed to any delay on the 2030 deadline. Alfonso Martinez, UK managing director of ALD LeasePlan UK, urged the Government to stay on track with its 2030 target and maintain the UK’s position as a leader in zero-emission technologies.
“Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate consistency and commitment to achieving environmental and sustainability goals,” he said.
“Pushing back timelines could send a confusing message to both businesses and consumers and hinder the ongoing efforts to decarbonise the mobility sector.
“For the past few years, we’ve been working in lockstep with the Government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, helping UK businesses and public sector bodies prepare their drivers and decarbonise their fleets.
“The end results are always the same: once people make the switch to electric, they realise just how good these vehicles are – quieter, more economical, cleaner and cost effective.
“I believe the UK has the potential to be a world leader in zero emission mobility – we currently sit at number 3 for Europe for EV maturity – just behind Norway and the Netherlands.
“A move like this will undermine the great progress made in clearing our air and reducing C02 emissions – and could set us back years, if not decades.”
Members of ChargeUK have committed more than £6 billion to roll out EV infrastructure in all parts of the UK at an unprecedented rate, turning on a new public charging point every 20 minutes.
In a statement, it said that this has been made possible by a “clear commitment” from the UK Government to decarbonise our economy, with the 2030 phase out date for new petrol and diesel vehicles 2030 acting as an “essential catalyst”.
“Today’s extremely worrying news is not consistent with economic stability or confidence,” it continued. It will compromise the entire industry, and place jobs and consumer and investor confidence at risk.”
ChargeUK calls on the Prime Minister to confirm that the UK Government remains committed to the 2030 phase out date for new petrol and diesel vehicles and to a strong ZEV mandate.
Andrew Leech, founder and managing director of Fleet Evolution, said: “We stand of the verge of a second industrial revolution as we move away from the reliance on fossil fuels to a future of cleaner energy based on renewables. And, the UK was very well placed to be right at the forefront of that revolution to become an economic powerhouse in the new technologies.
“Now we see Government considering moves to harm that development and risk not only our economic futures, but the future of the planet too. The two go very much hand in hand and taking a short-term approach like this risks harming both.”
He continued: “For the transition to EVs to continue work effectively, we need to see central government funds available to local authorities for adequate investment levels in public charging – not delaying deadlines and sending out confused messages around climate change.”
Philip Nothard, insight and strategy director at Cox Automotive believes that the Government’s “political flip-flopping” will attract much criticism, confuse consumers and compromise EV infrastructure investment and is more about currying voter favour ahead of an election than what’s best for the climate or automotive sector.
However, he said: “We should remember automotive is a global industry and manufacturers are already well on the way to phasing petrol- and diesel-powered models out.
“They simply cannot afford to keep producing internal combustion, hybrid and battery electric powertrains in parallel and many have long stopped development new internal combustion models, or made decisions to concentrate on alternative markets.
“Many manufacturers have already committed to a hybrid and EV-only model range ahead of 2030, while others will have drastically reduced the number of petrol and diesel models they produce by this date.
“Let’s not forget that the UK represents just shy of 3% of global new car sales and manufacturers are focused on the global picture, not the local one. So, while UK motorists may still be able to buy a new ICE vehicle beyond 2030, they will find a limited choice and prices that, thanks to the laws of supply and demand, will likely exceed those of hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
“The ICE-ban deadline is only one factor influencing the high-speed transition to EVs. For example, the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which comes into force next year and initially obliges manufacturers to ensure at least a fifth of the cars it sells are zero emission models, is arguably a greater influence and is at least aligned with Europe.
“Of greater concern right now is the UK government’s ambiguity and refusal to engage in any meaningful discussion about what it must do to encourage and accelerate the shift towards clean transportation. Incentives, investment and commitment are desperately needed, today’s news only serves to strangle progression on this further still.”
Melanie Shufflebotham, chief operating officer and co-founder of Zapmap, said: “The Government should be looking to the future, not the past, so any suggestion of delaying the petrol and diesel ban would be foolish and irresponsible.
“The climate emergency is already here but ministers continually fail to recognise the urgency of the situation.
“The growing popularity of electric vehicles shows that drivers are keen to play their part in the transition to cleaner transport, which is a critical part of our journey towards net zero. Any delay increases the risk that we’ll miss those targets.
“The number of public charging points is rapidly expanding – we’re approaching the 50,000 mark, with growth of more than 40% in the last year alone – so the direction of travel is clear.
“The Government must stick to its promises and start thinking long-term rather than short-term.”
David Savage, vice president for the UK and Ireland at Geotab, added: “All of us in the transportation industry have been investing heavily in this transition, from vehicle manufacturers to fleet operators, and infrastructure providers alike.
“This morning, many of these stakeholders will be feeling let down and betrayed by the Government.
“We need to be investing more in this transition, not reversing it. Not only to stimulate the UK’s position in this emerging sector, but also to build a sustainable future for us all.”
Gill Nowell, head of EV communications at ElectriX, part of LV= General Insurance, believes that theprospect of rolling back the 2030 ban on new sales of petrol and diesel cars risks the UK’s position as a world leader on EVs.
“We’re on the cusp of making real headway in our transition to net zero tailpipe emissions for road transport and this is key to improved air quality and health outcomes,” she said.
“Both industry and the driving community need certainty; businesses are investing heavily in electric car production, EV charging infrastructure, skills and training, and the supply chain.
“Now is the time to double down on our efforts, rather than steering away from our commitment to decarbonising road transport.
“Electric cars have lower running costs, are good for the planet, and good for our health. Public appetite for battery electric cars is still growing with 1 in 5 new cars registered in August being battery electric.
“Any movement on the 2030 date risks losing both industry and consumer buy-in for electric vehicles, and would be a sad day for UK plc.”
Ben Nelmes, CEO of New AutoMotive, said: “Delaying the 2030 deadline would pull the rug from under motorists and industry, and would deal a hammer blow to the UK’s leadership on climate change.
“It would be incredibly disruptive for an industry which has invested billions based on what they were told was settled policy, undermining jobs and investment.
“The 2030 deadline is one of the few areas of net zero that will actually save people money. Shifting to electric cars and vans will drive down costs for UK drivers.
“This move will deny people access to cheaper motoring, and if we delay the ban it will actually raise costs for motorists.
“This is a huge shock to the industry, which has invested billions in electrification – and on top of that, it’s also bad news for the planet. Pushing back 2030 risks putting net zero beyond reach.”
Asif Ghafoor, CEO and co-founder of Northern EV charging network Be.EV, said: “The rate at which consumers have adopted EVs has been faster than predicted. The Government must create policies that build on the public’s enthusiasm rather than sabotage it.
“Most car manufacturers have already pivoted away from ICE cars, most new models including more affordable EV models will be in the market by 2025 and a whole new manufacturing industry has sprung up in quiet, clean and modern EVs.
“We need legislation to unlock the power trapped in the system – but it’s all taking too long.
“Every leg of the planning, permissions, sourcing power and building process slows an installation down – charging networks are not able to move anywhere near quick enough to keep up with the amount of drivers transitioning to EVs.”
Jordan Brompton, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Myenergi, said: “The rumoured postponement of the UK’s 2030 date for phasing out new petrol and diesel car and van sales – which of course has always permitted some forms of hybrids to continue to be sold – is not good news for anyone.
“It weakens confidence in UK investment. Vehicle manufacturers don’t like it.
“Those of us who are working to decarbonise homes and transport don’t like it. And families that cannot afford a new car won’t like it, because they may have to wait even longer to buy a cleaner and cheaper-to-run electric car in the used market.”
Patrick Reich, CEO and co-founder of EV charging app Bonnet, added: “It would be very disappointing to see the UK lower its ambition just as businesses are investing huge sums and consumers beginning to switch in great numbers to electric vehicles.
“The mixed messaging from the government is very unhelpful for all and risks pushing global investors away from the UK. We would encourage the Prime Minister in his speech to provide as much certainty as possible, as a lack of clarity helps nobody.
“We remain committed to making the journey to EVs as easy as possible for drivers across Europe.”
James Hargrave, head of supply chain at Nexus Vehicle Rental, says that, while a slight delay is not ideal, the focus, drive and momentum already apparent towards vehicle electrification needs to be unwavering from OEM’s through to end users as the industry progresses along the EV roadmap.
“It is key that any minor obstacles are navigated accordingly to ensure the ultimate goal is met,” he said.
However, Net Zero Watch welcomed reports that the Government is planning to delay and water down some of its Net Zero targets.
Net Zero Watch has long warned that current Net Zero plans are astronomically costly, technologically impossible and politically unsustainable.
“As European governments have begun to retreat from their own Net Zero plans, it was just a question of time before the UK, which has even more utopian targets, had to make a U-turn, and return to the path of economic and technological realism,” it said.
“The Home Secretary’s statement that the UK ‘is not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people’ is a welcome acknowledgment of Net Zero Watch’s warnings that current Net Zero plans are economically self-destructive and politically irrational.
“If the reported changes turn out to be true, they could represent a significant first move towards a complete reassessment of the unilateral Net Zero targets embedded in the Climate Change Act.
“There has been a noisy backlash from green Conservatives and big corporations, arguing that delaying the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles reduces business certainty. This suggests that they have limited confidence that people will purchase EVs without an element of state coercion.
“Net Zero Watch hopes that in the coming days the Prime Minister will stick to his guns.”