PM Boris Johnson’s green plan bans sale of new petrol and diesel cars in UK from 2030

Road to Zero strategy

In his statement on Tuesday 18th November 2020, Boris Johnson stated that new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030. Disapointingly (from ECE point of view) some hybrids would still be allowed, he confirmed.

The policy is part of what the prime minister calls a “green industrial revolution” to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear.

Critics of the plan say the £4bn allocated is far too small for the scale of the challenge. The total amount of new money announced in the package is only 4% of the estimated £100bn cost of high-speed rail, HS2.

As part of the plan there will be a £1.3bn investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging points. Grants for EV buyers will increase to £582m to help people make the transition. There is also nearly £500m allocated for battery manufacture in the Midlands and north-east England.

In the race to clean up motoring and ban ICE cars, the UK is now in second place after Norway, which has an abolition date of 2025.

As usual UK car makers have warned about the scale of the challenge, but on a positive note the government believes that forcing technological change can give firms a competitive edge.
Industry groups have said that it will take a “Herculean effort” to prepare the UK for a ban on sales of new diesel and petrol car sales by 2030.
The RAC said the UK’s charging network would need to grow “exponentially” to cope with the plan.

Trade body the SMMT urged better incentives to help cut the costs of cars.
Plans for a ban on the sale of traditional petrol and diesel cars were first announced in 2017, as part of a strategy to clean up city air. It was previously meant to take effect in 2040.

In February 202, the target was brought forward to 2035, as the government sought to improve its environmental credentials ahead of the now-postponed UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Now the target has been revised again – although some hybrids will be allowed.

Announcing the plan on Tuesday, the government also promised:

  • £1.3bn to accelerate the rollout of charging points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways across England
  • £582m in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to make them cheaper to buy and incentivise car buyers to make the transition.
  • Nearly £500m to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.

Growth through legislation?

Meeting the new 2030 deadline will be challenging for the car industry. In 2019, there were 2.3 million new cars registered in the UK with only 37,850 were battery powered, less than 2%.

Sales in 202 have risen rapidly, partly due to strict new emissions rules in the EU which forced manufacturers to invest in new zero-emission models.

Legislation has resulted in improved electric cars, but they remain much more expensive to make and rely heavily on incentives to sell. The entry point for pure electric cars is much higher than traditional ICE cars.

Charging infrastructure issues

motorway station electric vehicle charge points

There are currently only 20,197 public charging points in the UK, in 12,724 locations, according to ZapMap, but the number is increasing rapidly. A growing proportion are high-powered rapid or ultra-rapid chargers. Without doubt many more will be needed if millions of petrol and diesel cars are to be replaced by battery models every year.

The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, stated many drivers found electric cars “daunting” due to concerns about their range and the lack of charging points.
“Some of these problems will disappear as the average range of electric vehicles increases, but it’s vital that the government continues to invest in developing a fast, reliable and widely available network of chargers that support electric vehicle owners no matter what their circumstances or travel plans.”

We at ECE believe that peer reviews detailing how easy Electric Cars are to live with will help educate buyers and get them over their fears in the changing to all electric motoring.

Ian Johnston is chief executive of Osprey, who are building a network of rapid chargers around the country.
He insists drivers can be confident there will be enough to go around, “because there are now a number of private entities investing hundreds of millions of pounds in deploying thousands of public charging points each year”.
However, he adds that the government will need to ensure it creates “a competitive marketplace at key locations, such as motorway service stations”.

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