Response to the Govt’s plan to end sales of petrol & diesel cars & vans

With the Government’s announcement of an end in 2030 to the sale of new cars and vans with conventional combustion engines the industry has been quick to respond.

petrol & diesel cars & vansLowCVP Managing Director Andy Eastlake says: “This is a critical milestone for the UK’s automotive sector and for car drivers, and a vital part of the plan as we strive to achieve net zero by 2050.  Since the invention of the internal combustion engine in the 1870s, the ICE has dominated the landscape and transformed the way we live. Now we must embrace the solutions that will allow us to continue to be mobile but without contributing to climate change.

“The UK is Europe’s second-largest car market and this commitment represents 50% more vehicles than the combined European countries with similar objectives.  So we’re setting a bold example to countries around the world as we prepare for next year’s climate summit in Glasgow.

“Now, battery technology has come of age and the capabilities of electric cars are rising fast while costs are falling. Simple economics is already beginning to drive this transition, regardless of all the other benefits.

“However, don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. This throws down the gauntlet to industry, government and the public to get behind this transition, and the real work starts now.

“We believe the targets are achievable, appropriate and many LowCVP members called for exactly this timing in order to maximise the impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but it will require partnership working at an unprecedented scale; between industries, and with government and the public to get us where we’ll need to be.

“Already with the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, LowCVP is at the centre of tackling crucial aspects of the detailed cross-sectoral work needed to make this target a reality. With our members, we will focus on addressing the other challenges presented and will support government to achieve shared objectives.”

EVA England welcomes the UK Government’s decision to bring forward the phasing out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 – ten years earlier than planned – as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

This decision supports ‘big picture’ issues such as the UK’s ambition to have net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 to combat climate change, and the urgent need to improve local air quality.

Even before this announcement, sales of electric cars were rising quickly – figures from October 2020 show that there was a 195% increase in the sales of battery electric cars compared to October 2019, whereas there was a 38% decline in sales of diesel cars over the same period – and most people say that they find EVs better to drive than petrol and diesel cars.

However in the run up to the 2030 phase-out date there are still a number of challenges to be addressed, ranging from supporting motorists to be able to switch to electric vehicles in the most affordable way possible, to ensuring drivers have confidence in the UK public charging network.

EVA England – a non-profit community interest company – has been set up to represent the views of EV drivers, as well as motorists who are looking to make the switch to EVs, in the run-up to the 2030 date for the phase-out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, and beyond.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement that the government will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, Gill Nowell, a Director at EVA England, said: “We welcome today’s announcement and judging by the results of our survey of electric vehicle drivers that we ran in the summer, and through our engagement with both prospective and current EV drivers, so too does the EV community in England.

“Drivers that go electric in England typically do so as they are concerned about air pollution, climate change, or want to significantly reduce their fuel costs. Regardless of their motivations going into their first purchase, the majority find that they are just great vehicles to drive.

“Whilst health, climate and affordability are vitally important parts to this debate, we also see EVs as the go to car choice for many, as they become increasingly more affordable and available.”

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.

“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 there are three support areas that the Government must focus on:

First, 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.

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.

Chris Burghardt, MD – Europe, for ChargePoint, said: “Of course, it is another step in the right direction from the UK government to bring forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030, as well as the inclusion of hybrids from 2035 – we certainly welcome this news. However, it remains true that this is simply one piece in a much larger puzzle.

Not only do we need to ensure that this date is feasible but also remember that to fight against climate change, we need electric transport to be the option of choice from now not 2030. As such, the UK government needs to support this ban with a package of consistent incentives, support and consumer information which demonstrates to consumers which vehicles they should be investing in should they want to purchase a new car from today onwards.

Wider infrastructure is another point of discussion – creating a robust, easy-to-use and cost effective network of electric vehicle charging points needs to be high on the government’s agenda alongside this ban. This needs to include expanding the UK’s rapid charging network further into major cities and rural communities as well as reduce barriers to charging by encouraging open roaming policies that allow drivers access to all chargers, regardless of their favoured provider.

Ultimately, we want to avoid at all costs a situation where consumers rush to buy petrol and diesel cars before 2030 or plan to purchase them second hand following the ban. This will severely damage the UK’s promise to reach net zero emissions by 2050.”

Edmund King, AA president, says; “The 2030 target is incredibly ambitious, but the transformation to electric cars is welcome.

“Consistently, the barriers to EV ownership are: the initial cost of the car and availability, perceived single-charge range anxiety and charging infrastructure – particularly for the third of drivers without off-street parking. If we can tackle these issues with considerable investment and focus, the electric revolution could flourish.

“We are pleased that the package of measures announced is more than just a date in the diary. By investing heavily in the national charging network, battery production and providing incentives will help.

“The concession for hybrids will be a welcome stepping stone for fleets and individuals before going fully electric.

“One of the biggest challenges will be for car makers to change more than 100 years of combustion engine production to cater for an electric future within a decade.”

Commenting on the statement, Alan Bastey, customer relationship director and EV specialist at Zenith, said: “The government’s announcement on the ban of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and hybrids by 2035,  is a welcome confirmation and will help businesses focus on their future mobility requirements. It means the change is only two or three fleet cycles away for the average company.

“Moving to an electric vehicle can be daunting for drivers, so companies need to design a policy that helps to inform employee choice and remove the perceived barriers. We see that engagement and education are pivotal to successful uptake.

“Demand for BEV passenger cars continues to grow, supported by growing choice, improved affordability and availability. Our teams across Zenith are working proactively with customers to help them manage the transition to BEVs and ensure that the mix of vehicles is appropriate to their business requirements.”

Alfonso Martinez, managing director of vehicle leasing experts LeasePlan UK, has issued the following statement: “The UK Government’s plans to bring forward the ban on new fossil fuel vehicles to 2030 are suitably ambitious, and a welcome sign that it is taking the nation’s transition to EVs seriously. However, 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.”

Tom Clarke, Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy at LV= General Insurance, comments: “Bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030 is a leap forward in terms of hitting the 2050 Net Zero commitment, but its impact is slightly diminished by the decision to let hybrid cars stay in showrooms until 2035. This makes no sense – hybrid cars, like their petrol and diesel equivalents, are polluters and in order to provide consistent and clear messaging to the public in the push to switch to EVs, they should fall in line with the 2030 ban.

“More work also needs to be done to drive engagement and uptake in EVs, and this should start with bridging the price gap between them and their petrol/diesel equivalents. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to follow France and Germany’s lead and improve the package of fiscal incentives and nudges for drivers looking to make the switch.”

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