The UK government has made clear its plans to make Britain a carbon neutral country. To achieve this goal, a ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 was proposed before subsequently being delayed until 2035. CiTTI Magazine editor John Thornton asked a host of transport experts, urban mobility professionals and industry leaders whether or not they agreed with the decision to delay the start of the ban by five years…
Julia Pallé, Vice President of Sustainability, Formula E
It’s disappointing to see the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles being postponed. The decision doesn’t just have huge implication on domestic and international industry, but the entire planet.
Taking positive action to combat climate change is a collective responsibility we all share and while consumers have the freedom of choice and can make the positive move toward e-mobility, there is no reason to roll back or delay the enormous progress that has already been made.
Ultimately, despite some governments taking a step back on their climate agendas, such as through their EV deployment and integration commitments, car manufacturers have taken a concerted and strategic business direction and that is not going to change because of these roll backs.
Globally, consumers are increasingly adopting EVs. Sales surged to 10.5 million worldwide in 2022, with sales of almost 27 million forecasted by 2026. And independent research consistently shows that most consumers are committed to making positive changes toward net zero, regardless of age and political persuasion.
As such, consumers and manufactures will continue to drive the EV agenda forward irrespective of the government positioning because they recognise the true environmental and technological benefits they bring. What is most needed now is a continual effort toward deploying the infrastructure required to support this trajectory, and it needs to happen at pace.
The FIA Formula E World Championship continues to contribute to widespread electric vehicle (EV) development and adoption, showcasing how high-performance technology and sustainability can co-exist while providing carmakers with a testbed for further innovation and development.
By providing a ‘race to road’ test bed, we’ve seen immense examples of knowledge transfer and innovation in the consumer EV cars that are our streets today.
Julian Hartley, Managing Director, V12 Vehicle Finance
The UK government’s decision is pragmatic and places purchasing power back in the hands of buyers and is a positive move for independent dealers, according to data we have on the electric vehicle (EV) market and our own research.
While many buyers are already joining the EV revolution, it would be wrong to force consumers to consider significant outlay on a vehicle that is currently lacking the support of a fully developed infrastructure, especially at a time when many are feeling the effects of increased interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis.
The range of EVs, both new and used, available on the market has grown exponentially since 2019 and while we expect that to continue and drive prices down, costs are currently unfeasible for many.
Currently, the government has no other option than to extend the timeline on the proposed ban, but doing so should buy the time to improve infrastructure and allow the market to mature in its own time.
The automotive industry shouldn’t view this as a backtrack on the long-term goal of fully electrifying the car market. Instead, we should encourage the full EV supply chain to embrace the extra time afforded to it and bolster the charging infrastructure, as well as driving a desirability of EVs nationwide and ensure that relevant costs continue to fall, making ownership of an EV an appealing prospect rather than a forced commitment for both buyers and independent dealers.
By allowing the EV market, charging infrastructure and the accompanied introduction of clean air zones throughout the country to mature, this will undoubtedly alleviate the concerns of many independent used car dealers shared around the initial 2030 deadline. The longer timeframe will enable a larger variety of used EVs to enter used car dealer stock, and higher demand to fulfil.
Will David, CEO, Clenergy EV
A postponement of the ban wasn’t a huge surprise to the electric vehicle (EV) industry. The main concern for those involved in supporting organisations with the roll out of charging infrastructure, or responsible for the electrification of fleets, is that it would lead to a propensity for delays in the implementation of EV transition plans.
To date, the feedback we have received from our public sector clients is that it is ‘business as usual’ and the government’s announcement made little difference. Whether it is the roll out of chargepoint infrastructure and software to support people in a city or region to switch to EVs, or the electrification of their own fleet, they remain steadfast in their commitment to ensure projects are on track.
After all, for many these EV transition plans form a key part of their organisation’s journey to Net Zero. What they are more concerned about is reducing carbon emissions, securing the data insights to transition in a controlled way, managing their vehicles, and having the ability to drive down running costs.
Audrey Denis, Senior Strategy Manager, Cubic Transportation Systems
Rishi Sunak’s five-year delay on the ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars has received mixed reactions. For some, the government has destroyed UK credibility on climate change. For others, it’s a pragmatic repositioning of the goalpost. Both responses miss the crux of the issue: the net zero strategy doesn’t need delaying, it needs overhauling.
While alternate fuel sources are important, they take up valuable space on our roads, contributing to congestion. Analysis shows that road building cancels out 80% of the carbon savings from a switch to electric vehicles (EVs) over the next 12 years. If use of EVs reaches 80% by 2050, this would also require an additional 150GW of electricity for charging them, which risks offsetting the positive climate impacts.
Rather than pump more money into cars, the government should pursue transit-first policies that cut car dependency, shift travellers to public transit and genuinely achieve environmental goals. With the right tools, passenger behaviour can be changed – or ‘nudged’ – to make an impact on traffic and pollution.
Digital mobility solutions can synchronise siloed transport systems across the mobility network, allowing us to connect everything, from local buses to ridesharing to traffic management. As an example of how this might encourage proactive tactics, we might use dynamic congestion pricing to reduce traffic on days with poor air quality.
For those living outside of big towns and cities in areas with limited transport links, car and mobility sharing should be encouraged. Demand responsive transit options also offer a great cost-effective alternative. These solutions will help to make sustainability a reality in the long-term.
Eugenio Herrero, Managing Director, EV Charging Infrastructure, SMS PLC
Consistent policymaking is essential for long-term investment decisions, and U-turns like the UK government’s recent decision to postpone the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035 are unhelpful.
That said, from the perspective of the country’s electric vehicle (EV) charging industry, the decision has changed absolutely nothing. It has not, and will not, stall the ongoing and much needed transition to EVs and away from fossil fuels.
The EV industry’s efforts have already seen more than 50,000 public EV chargepoints installed across the UK at more than 30,300 locations, with another 250,000 estimated to be needed by the end of the decade just to keep up with demand.
We know that there are now already more than 1.3 million fully electric or plug-in hybrid cars on UK roads, with one being sold every 60 seconds, according to latest industry figures. This shows there is momentum and investment, both in terms of the charging infrastructure rollout and EV adoption by the UK population.
Sue Robinson, Chief Executive, National Franchised Dealers Association
The announcement to delay the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035 is unsurprising given the government’s inertia around driving electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the UK. This change will likely create further uncertainty for the industry, however, it does align the UK automotive industry with the European Union (EU), its largest international trading partner, and automotive dealers support this.
When we surveyed our members in August 2023, 60% of respondents supported an alignment with the EU. This emphasised a lack of confidence in the government’s previous plan to deliver the necessary support the industry needed to achieve the 2030 deadline.
Whilst the UK continues to hold some of the most ambitious climate commitment targets, it still lacks any credible up-front price incentives to support the transition to electric for less-affluent motorists. With the removal of the plug-in car grant last June and price parity yet to be reached between EVs and their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, the government must create a clear and positive message for motorists that they remain committed to their climate targets.
Ultimately, the phasing out of ICE vehicles in the UK requires a clear strategy from the government to achieve it, it must be supported by forward thinking legislation and attractive initiatives to encourage motorists in making the shift. If the UK is to reach its 2050 net-zero targets it needs to support the automotive industry, now more than ever.
Ashley Tate, Managing Director, Allstar Chargepass
By not imposing a ban that was meant to aid the UK in reaching net zero, the government is going against its own target to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035. This decision is likely spurred on by the public perception of electric vehicles (EVs) and the associated inflated costs for charging.
However, if the government is serious about changing this perception, investment into infrastructure must be prioritised as well as the incentivising of the use of more EV fleets and vehicles and promoting the benefits of a more sustainable transport option.
More importantly, there needs to be greater education surrounding the EVs and how the switch from fuel to electric can have a positive impact on any business’ (and individual’s) carbon footprint.
While we are seeing more support from governments, which are investing more funds into public chargepoints and projects to further encourage a transition to EVs, this has yet to translate to the consumer side.
By raising awareness of the capabilities of EVs, governments can contribute to a more positive perception of EVs, which in turn, could encourage more individuals and businesses to switch to a more environmentally friendly vehicle, whether a ban is in place or not.
Gordon Balmer, Executive Director, Petrol Retailers’ Association
The prime minister’s announcement reflects the reality of the delays in meeting infrastructure targets. The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK can’t be realistically achieved without the corresponding charging network to accommodate it. Delays in infrastructure targets and questions around alternative methods of tax to compensate for the loss of fuel duty revenue and VAT had cast a shadow over the 2030 deadline.
Our members are committed to the decarbonisation of transport and are installing chargepoints to support an uptake of EVs. We have called on the government to provide support and direction concerning the critical issues of connecting to the grid and delivery of the required electricity to support the infrastructure. The ban on new internal combustion vehicles by 2030 was a date without a plan and we hope the movement of the date to 2035 will allow the government to agree on a sensible strategy to decarbonise transport.
The Petrol Retailers’ Association agrees with the UK Transport Select Committee’s findings in its document, “Fuelling the future, motive power and connectivity”, which stats the government has put all of its eggs in one basket with EVs. Instead of gambling our hopes for successful decarbonisation away on unrealistic mandates, they should instead be focusing on more pragmatic options, such as a hybrid approach that would see the adoption of sustainable fuels.
David Savage, Vice President – UK & Ireland, Geotab
The watering down of the UK government’s net zero commitments are concerning, particularly with regard to the transition to zero-emission vehicles, as we collectively face the existential threat of climate change.
All of us in the transportation industry have been investing heavily in this transition, from vehicle manufacturers to fleet operators, and infrastructure providers alike. Many of these stakeholders will be feeling let down and betrayed by the government.
We need to invest more in this transition, not reverse it. Not only to stimulate the UK’s position in this emerging sector, but also to build a sustainable future for us all. The government has already walked back various incentives for zero-emission vehicles – and despite the prime minister’s claim that the long-term interests of our country must come before “short-term political needs”, climate change is simply not going to wait.
Recent discussions around the introduction of the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone show how harmful tailpipe emissions are in heavily populated areas. The decision by the government to withdraw the plug-in car grants and then the ban on the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles being delayed to 2035 creates a huge amount of uncertainty, when what we need is a strong and clear commitment to a greener future.
The government previously noted its leadership position with this policy, in its own words, stating that it “[puts] the UK on course to be the fastest G7 country to decarbonise cars and vans”. It is troubling that it is U-turning on this commitment.
Stuart James, Chief Executive, Independent Garage Association
The decision to delay the introduction of the ban represents a reality check that the infrastructure required to support wholesale electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the UK is currently lagging behind where it would need to be, had the 2030 ban remained in place.
In the current challenging economic climate, to impose the high cost of new EVs on businesses and consumers, would be a step too far, so pushing back the ban date 2035 is the right thing to do.
To ensure that the new 2035 is achieved, there needs to be UK government support not only for the required infrastructure, but also for upskilling of staff across the independent automotive sector, in order to provide consumers with the confidence needed to make the change to EVs.
The government should use this extended timeline wisely by developing plans to reduce the price gap between EVs and conventional vehicles, and provide adequate support for both consumers and the automotive sector during this transitional period.
Achievements and innovations in vehicles that help to reduce air pollution and improve emissions will be celebrated at the third annual CiTTi Awards, which will be held on 26 November 2024 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Nominations officially open in March 2024. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector.