Earlier this year, the UK government announced that it was considering bringing a planned ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans forward from 2040 to 2035 – or maybe even earlier – and extending it to include hybrids and plug-in hybrids. As part of the process, the Department for Transport and Office for Low Emission Vehicles launched a public consultation to find out what the public thinks of its proposals.
The consultation asks for views on:
The phase-out date.
The definition of what should be phased out.
Barriers to achieving the above proposals.
The impact of these ambitions on different sectors of industry and society.
What measures are required by government and others to achieve the earlier phase-out date.
This is a hugely significant and important decision, and we at Autocar felt it was vital to make sure that our voice – and yours – is heard. Below, therefore, is our response to the consultation, which we have submitted to OLEV. We urge you to do the same.
Let’s make one thing clear: Autocar supports the electrification of the UK car parc as quickly as is practicable, both as a way of cutting toxic emissions in our cities and of eliminating the CO2 output of British cars and vans, a contributor to global warming. For years it has been clear to us – as we believe it also has been to all global car makers – that these are dominant, desirable outcomes.
However, the proposed ban on sales of all internal-combustion-engine (ICE) cars and vans by 2035, and possibly 2032, strikes us as a close-to-unworkable way of achieving laudable aims.
It’s almost guaranteed to do irrevocable harm to a British car industry that was once the darling of politicians but has been successively battered by the Great Recession, Brexit uncertainties and now the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe a realistic examination of the effects of the proposed ban must generate a change of emphasis.
Our contention is that:
A ban on volume-produced ICE-only cars and vans is right in nearly all cases, but there must be exclusions to protect our unique specialist and low-volume car industries.
However, the ban shouldn’t extend to plug-in hybrids – at least until pure EVs prove their suitability for all current car and van users – because they will remain essential for long-range drivers.
The authorities should set standards, not enforce specific solutions in a case like this.