The Government will ban the sale of new cars that can travel less than 50 miles on electricity from 2040, Autocar can exclusively reveal.
The plan, called Road to Zero and set to be unveiled imminently, follows last year’s announcement by the Government that it would ban all diesel and petrol cars in the UK by that year as part of a £2.7 billion strategy designed to cut pollution. It came in light of research that described UK air quality issues as “a national health emergency”.
At the time of the announcement, it was unclear which electrified models, other than pure-electric models, would be exempt from the ban, leading to heavy criticisim of the strategy's clarity.
As a result of the Road to Zero strategy, all current hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, would be banned from sale from 2040. Plug-in hybrids on sale today typically offer 30 miles of zero-emission range, so they would have to be substantially improved to avoid the ban.
It is estimated that 99% of all cars on sale today would not be able to be sold under the terms of Road to Zero.
While the paper is set to determine a 22-year glide path for purely combustion-engined technology, car industry insiders are said to be unhappy that the ban is being announced by the Government without details of how it plans to invest in infrastructure to support the strategy or how it will incentivise car buyers to adopt new technology other than via the imposition of the deadline.
Electrified vehicles only accounted for 5.2% of all new car sales in the first four months of this year, reflecting the slow — albeit growing — uptake of zero-emissions models.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Soceity of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which speaks on behalf of car makers, said the industry supported the Goverment's goal for zero-emissions transport. He highlighted the fact that the industry is investing billions in new technology, with nearly 50 plug-in models already on the market; however, he criticised the leaked announcement of the ban and its wording.
Hawes said: "Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles, giving consumers ever more choice, but industry cannot dictate the pace of change, nor levels of consumer demand. Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports."
He added that the SMMT could not support goals that "do not appreciate how industry, the consumer or the market operate and which are based neither on fact nor substance".
Moreover, Hawes said that 98% of all new cars are diesel or petrol that meet the latest and toughest emissions standards, helping to reduce climate change and improve air quality: “If the Government wants the UK to be a global leader in zero-emission transport, it must provide a world-class package of incentives and support to make this a credible policy. This includes ensuring we have the right infrastructure in place with sufficient charging points and energy supply.
"Consumers need clear information about the right vehicles for their driving needs and it is again disappointing for both industry and consumers that vitally important information about government policy is being communicated by leaks.”
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “We have a clear plan to introduce electrified derivatives of all models across our entire product range by 2025 in line with our PACE! plan. We are cautious of misleading communications on ‘bans’ which can only undermine our major investments to achieve the goal of zero emission transport.