Petrol and diesel vehicle ban from 2030: industry reaction

Feature

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, ten years earlier than planned. So what are the implications for fleet, and what hurdles need to be overcome first? Here’s how the industry has reacted

The Prime Minister has confirmed plans to bring forward the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans to 2030. Hybrids with the capability of driving a “significant distance” with zero emissions, such as plug-in hybrids or full hybrids, can continue to be sold until 2035. This will be defined further through consultation.
    
The announcement forms part of the government’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution.     
    
Acknowledging the pace of change will need to increase in terms of the charging infrastructure, £1.3 billion has been announced to accelerate the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways across England. £582 million has also been allocated for grants to incentivise more people to make the transition to electric. Meanwhile nearly £500 million has been earmarked for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries in the next four years.

The ten point plan

The Prime Minister’s ten point plan not only covers transport – electric vehicles, public tranport, air and maritime - but also offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear, buildings, carbon capture, nature, innovation and finance.
    
Part of the plan is to back car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. It also includes plans to make cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel, and to invest in zero-emission public transport.

Industry reaction

The BVRLA has welcomed the government’s decision in taking a phased approach to ending the sale of petrol and diesel car and vans but warns that setting dates is only the start of the process.
     
The association’s members own and operate over five million cars, vans and trucks and are responsible for around half of all new vehicle registrations. All of them are committed to decarbonising, but some face a much harder challenge than others. Many fleet operators are unable to source appropriate electric vehicles for their needs while others have a business model that struggles to absorb the additional cost and charging constraints of running EVs.
     
BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney comments: “2030 is an extremely aggressive phase-out target, but one that will be embraced by many drivers and fleet operators.
     
“The 2035 extension for plug-in and full hybrids provides an essential lifeline for those facing a greater zero-emission challenge. Vehicle rental companies and van fleet operators will be very relieved to have this additional breathing space but will need clarity on exactly what types of hybrid are in scope.
     
“Setting these phase-out dates is just the start of the journey, now the government needs to create the supportive environment that will enable fleets and motorists to step up to the challenge of decarbonising road transport. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap.”
     
The BVRLA believes that the government needs to maintain a set of powerful tax incentives and grants that will drive demand across all segments of the UK fleet and retail automotive market. Research produced for the BVRLA by Cambridge Econometrics estimates that this stimulus package could cost up to £95bn.
     
Secondly, electric vehicles are in high demand across the globe. The government must ensure that the UK remains an attractive market for OEMs to sell their products, the BVRLA believes.
     
Finally, the UK needs a comprehensive strategy on charging infrastructure. This must include an adequate supply of affordable, accessible and reliable public charge points and incentives to unlock private sector investment. EV infrastructure rollout should not be held back by arguments about who pays for upgrading the local electricity network and how this work is prioritised. The government has announced £1.3bn in funding to accelerate the roll-out of charge points across the UK, but recent research produced for the SMMT suggests that £16.7bn needs to be spent on public charging infrastructure alone.
    
A seismic change

Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: “This is a seismic step towards delivering on government’s Road to Zero policy and one we are fully in support of. However, it simply won’t happen overnight. Petrol and diesel-powered cars accounted for 73 per cent of new car sales this year so far.
     
“2030 will come around particularly quickly for businesses with large fleets of traditionally-fuelled cars and vans. With the new target, they’ll have just over two replacement cycles to make the shift. Although more businesses are exploring switching to electric vehicles already, the announcement makes this transition much more pressing and firms will need to start to act now.
     
“An acceleration of the UK’s EV infrastructure rollout, incentivising new and used purchases, plus investing in renewable electricity sources and making the UK attractive to BEV suppliers in a global market must be at the top of the agenda if we are ever going to hit this ambitious deadline. We’ve heard plenty of pro-EV rhetoric. Now it’s time for government departments and industry bodies to come together to help the UK transition to a net-zero future.”
    
Brexit considerations

Alfonso Martinez, managing director of vehicle leasing experts LeasePlan UK, said: “The government still needs to address the elephant in the room: what happens to EV supply post Brexit? We need urgent answers from the government on what will happen to the continuity of EV supply shipments when trade tariffs are introduced. We must ensure that the UK still keeps its place at the table, otherwise we run the risk of simply not having enough vehicles to meet the demand and ultimately failing to meet our environmental obligations in the long term.
    
“The government also needs to make urgent investments in EV charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, to ensure the switch is as frictionless as possible. This needs to happen sooner rather than later; bad experiences with charging stations early on will only serve to dissuade people from going electric, making widespread adoption even more challenging.”

A fleet manager’s perspective

Simon King, director of sustainability and social value at Mitie, said: “The announcement bringing forward the deadline for future sales of petrol and diesel sales and additional funding for EV charge point infrastructure is a positive step. As one of the UK’s biggest private-sector fleets and with the largest number of electric vehicles, we believe that the future of fleets is electric. That’s why we’ve pledged to switch our fleet of 5,500 vehicles to zero emission by 2025 and launched our Plan Zero EV fleet transition service to share our knowledge with other businesses.
     
“With the biggest barrier to our EV rollout being a lack of on street charge points, this further investment will help us go further, faster and give our drivers peace of mind that they can plug in and charge wherever, and whenever, they need to. We look forward to significant future announcements and funding to ensure that on street charging points are available to all drivers without off street parking, so no-one is left behind the zero carbon mobility transition.”
    
Jamie Hamilton, head of electric vehicles at Deloitte, said: “The news has big implications for fleet operators, potentially upping the pace of change in this market. Despite the ban being a decade away, many companies will already be thinking carefully about the implications to their fleet. There are already major financial and environmental benefits associated with transitioning to electric, but any wholesale change requires careful planning around infrastructure and operating models.
     
“With the timeline now set, the race is on for the UK’s charging infrastructure to keep up, with capacity likely to be tested at peak times. Continued coordination with charging infrastructure planning is essential for the sustained growth of EV adoption. Consumers will need to see a joined up approach that considers how many chargers are needed, what kind of chargers are needed and what the underlying power networks look like.”
    
Matthew Farrow, director of policy at the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) said: “Bringing forward the commitment on electric vehicles will have positive effects on air quality in the near-term as confidence grows in both the technology and charging infrastructure.”

Frank Gordon, Head of Policy at REA said: “The electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector stands ready to roll-out enough charge points to meet demand so long as a supportive regulatory regime is in place.

“Renewable transport fuels will play a critical and complementary role to this policy, and will be needed in greater volumes to ensure that we maximise emissions reductions from the millions of petrol and diesel cars and vans already on our roads, not just from new ones.”

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles said: “This announcement is a landmark moment for the UK, setting a clear, ambitious and achievable date which will fast-track the electric vehicle revolution and clean up the air of our cities.

“Tesla has transformed the market with brilliant electric cars. As others race to catch up, it's an important signal to the market that the UK will no longer welcome dirty diesels and petrol cars from 2030 - in turn, creating thousands of green jobs while saving motorists billions of pounds, and showing the UK's leadership position in our low carbon future.

“Drivers don’t have to wait until 2030 to go electric – the cars, the charge points, and the affordable prices are here today. By switching now, drivers can save thousands in fuel, tax and maintenance costs, and make the most of generous government incentives that won’t be around forever, not to mention feel good about their impact on the planet. Many drivers are already realising this - leading to a surge in electric vehicle sales - up 169% in 2020 despite COVID. With some customers having to wait more than 6 months for their electric cars due to a current shortage, this ban date will let manufacturers know that they need to keep up if they want to sell into one of the biggest car market in Europe."

 

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