Industry rocked by fears over UK pushing back 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars

Reports that the UK prime minister is set later today to delay the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years will undermine consumer confidence at a time when car buyers need above all else clarity and support to make more sustainable choices, according to the UK motor industry. 

Sally Foote, UK managing director at online marketplace carwow said “Many manufacturers have channelled significant investment into transitioning to electric vehicles to meet the government’s 2030 target. At the same time, consumers are making decisions with green policies in mind.

“These are positive steps to transition to greener vehicles, and pushing the date back risks sending the message that this transition is now less important. It also confuses the policy landscape at a time when motorists are navigating new and expanded clean air zones across the country. Our recent research found that 25% of drivers are considering an EV specifically due to ULEZ.”

She said Carwow research indicated that two in five (38%) motorists tell us they are now considering an EV as their next car, and SMMT data shows that battery electric cars accounted for 20% of new car registrations in August.

“As a result, we’re seeing evidence of increased demand reflected in the levels of dealer interest in plug-in stock coming through our auctions. EVs are now receiving more dealer offers per listing than average ICE listings.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director of Auto Trader, commented:“Pushing back the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel sales by five years is a hugely retrograde step which puts politics ahead of net zero goals.

“This U-turn will cause a huge headache for manufacturers, who are crying out for clarity and consistency, and it is hardly going to encourage the vast majority of drivers who are yet to buy an electric car to make the switch.

“Rather than grasp the challenge and use the tax system to ease concerns over affordability, the Prime Minister has taken the easy option with one eye on polling day.”

Dylan Setterfield, head of forecast strategy at cap hpi said the government’s Road To Zero strategy is now shrouded in uncertainty, with the ban on sales of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars rumoured to be delayed until 2035.

“The Zero Emissions Mandate was intended to be the method applied to reach the required registration rate, but the fact that the details have still not been released ahead of the proposed implementation date of January 2024 tells its own story.”

HE said the cap hpi view for some time has been that the deadline for ending the sales of new ICE cars would be pushed out to 2035, in line with the rest of Europe, albeit with the action expected to be taken after the next general election. The five-year forecast outlook currently runs to 2028, so cap hpi was not yet factoring in any short-term impact on BEV (or even ICE) in the immediate run-up to the phasing out of new ICE cars.

Setterfield added: “I’m not sure it makes any difference to anything. We always said that 2030 was a very ambitious target and required significant action and forward planning to make it happen. Although there has been significant progress in infrastructure development, we think we are behind the BEV penetration required to naturally reach 100% BEV being a reality by 2030 without huge intervention.

“Our assumption had been that the ICE ban would be extended to 2035 by the next UK government, regardless of which party or parties would be in power, with the new incumbents blaming the current administration for not making sufficient progress to meet the 2030 target. Even if the 2030 deadline remains unchanged for passenger cars, we could see changes to the timetable for LCV, or the majority of hybrid vehicles allowed until 2035.”

EV expert, David Martell, owner of British home charging companies, Andersen EV and EVIOSadded; “If, as predicted, the government postpones ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, it will be a truly retrogressive step and entirely counter-productive. It obviously won’t be good for the environment, will likely confuse potential car buyers, and it will discourage inward investment in the UK by green-tech businesses.

“The motor industry has been gearing up for the 2030 deadline since it was announced by the Conservative government three years ago, and the message from carmakers is clear – we cannot delay. For the sake of the economy today and the environment in future years, we need a clear commitment and better policies to make the transition happen. No-one is served by simply kicking the can down the road.”




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