Petrol/diesel ban by 2030 confirmed

Published:  18 November, 2020

The government is bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

From 2030, only new EVs will be sold, with some hybrids permitted until 2035 to help ease the transition.

The move, which brings the deadline for the shift over to EVs forward another five years from 2035 where it moved to in February, is part of a 10-point plan for what Boris Johnson calls a “green industrial revolution.” This is intended to help move the UK towards being carbon neutral by 2050, while also aiding post-Coronavirus recovery. £4 billion has been earmarked to facilitate the EV goal, which is part of a total £12 billion of funding allocated for the overall project. There will be £1.3bn for EV charging points, while £582m in EV grants for will be used to help entice buyers. Writing in the Financial Times, the Prime Minister said: “Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful.” Significant challenges are ahead however. Moving away from fossil fuels could cost government £40 billion in lost fuel duty, and a move towards road pricing is being considered by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as a result.

Infrastructure is still lacking as well, which is holding back sales, despite impressive increases from an admittedly low base. SMMT sales figures for October showed that battery electric vehicles made up just 2.2% of the total cars sold in the month. Plug-in hybrids also represented 2.2% of the total, with more conventional hybrids fielding 5.5%. SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes observed: “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. "We are pleased, therefore, to see 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. Investment in EV manufacturing capability is equally welcome as we want this transition to be ‘made in the UK’, but if we are to remain competitive, as an industry and a market, this is just the start of what’s needed.”   “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 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.”

There are also hurdles for the aftermarket to overcome. There are currently between 13,000 and 20,000 techs qualified to work on electric vehicles according to the IMI, but the new deadline means an additional 57,000 EV-qualified tech will be needed by 2030.

IMI CEO Steve Nash commented: “It seems little thought has been given to the swathe of businesses and individuals employed by the automotive industry beyond manufacturing. Yet it is this ecosystem, from the distribution chain of car dealers to service and repair and even accident recovery, that fundamentally underpins the government’s ambitions. If the new parc of electric vehicles can’t be serviced and repaired safely the whole plan will stall on the starting grid.

“Currently around just 5% of UK automotive technicians are adequately trained to work on electric vehicles. The ramp-up plan for all those who are likely to work on electrical vehicles. from service and repair technicians to those working in the roadside recovery and blue light sectors, now must be addressed as a matter of urgency. That means some of that £12bn investment promised by the Prime Minister needs to be put towards skills training.”

Steve added: “We are currently a long way off achieving a critical mass of technicians qualified, with COVID-19 setting us back significantly in reaching optimum numbers in time for 2035, let alone 2030. Government action is needed urgently to encourage automotive employers to re-ignite their EV training plans.”

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